The Status of Marriage IV

Who shall drink of the cup?

This reading is in support of the call of our Holy Father, Pope Francis for a Synod regarding family issues. It is an attempt to bring to light the current pressures and realities of the world we live in. It is not a discussion to pass judgment but rather to highlight the issues, which will be discussed during the upcoming Synod.

In his letter of preparation, our Holy Father addressed his bishops and the clergy with specific questions that were to be self reflective of the pastoral as individuals and of the pastoral as an organization within the church. As if it were a living breathing being that interacts with the church.

The questions we discuss today are found in section 4 of the letter “Pastoral Care in Certain Difficult Marital Situations.” To paraphrase from this section, we find some basic questions:

1. Is Cohabitation a reality in your particular Church?
2. Do marriages, which are not sacramental, really exist?
3. Are couples who are separated or couples divorced a reality in our congregation?

The final question, I must admit I found a little bit humorous, if the Holy Father will forgive me for saying so.

The question was, “in the above cases”, and I assume this refers to people either living together as a couple or a divorced couple; “Are they aware of it”?

I understand the meaning was toward the spiritual ramifications, but the visual in one’s head that a divorced couple wouldn’t realize they were divorced made me smile.

A more appropriate question in that same paragraph was “Do they feel marginalized? Do they suffer from the impossibility of receiving the sacraments?

"Divorce is a grave offense against the natural law," according to the Catechism (2384). "Divorce does injury to the covenant of salvation, of which sacramental marriage is the sign."

It was Christ who told us that no man shall put asunder, what God has made whole.

In Mark 10, versus 11-12 “1 And he (Christ) said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

So, the logic is as follows: Adultery is a grave sin. When someone sins, he or she should confess his or her sins. God will forgive us if we are truly repentant. If we intended to keep committing the sin, then we would not be repentant and therefore could not be forgiven. We therefore would not be in a state of grace.

Ergo, we would not be worthy of taking the body and blood of Christ.

"Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup" (1 Cor. 11:27–28).

We heard only last week from Father William that the options for divorced women in the time of Christ were limited. A few lucky ones, who were from families of extreme wealth or power could possibly remarry and therefore adapt to a new life. For the overwhelming majority, a divorced woman was cursed to a life of prostitution and or begging.

If we examine Christ’s guidance with the backdrop of a the above society; and the fact that a man could from one day to the next dismiss his wife out of hand, without any proof, then we have more information about what may have been the motivation of Christ when he addressed this topic.

It is widely acknowledged that Christ recognized and honored the role of women. Are we surprised that he would come to the defense of women? That he should hold men of this time and society responsible for caring for the woman he took as his wife. Are we surprised that he should deny a man the opportunity to caste aside a beloved creature begotten of the Father (woman)?

We easily take scripture line by line, and see the clarity in it. Christ said, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her” and we stop our search for further guidance.

What will happen during the upcoming Synod, only God knows.

For those who want to take the scripture line by line, I draw their attention to 1 Corinthians, 11:28 (mentioned above) that states, “ Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup”

God Bless