A reading from the book of Genesis
“It is not good for man to be alone.” We are created in the image and likeness of God, and God is not a solitary being—that is, in the sense that God is a community of persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are communal beings, and the most basic community is between a man and a woman in marriage: “The two of them become one flesh.” That is truly amazing, beautiful to hear, challenging to live, but the goal of all marriages.
Still, we who are married need solitude sometimes, which is very different from loneliness. It is a time to reflect, to pray, and to just be, amid our busy lives. It can be a time of renewal of the deepest and best in us. It may not be easy to find this kind of time, but we should respect our own need and our partner’s need for this opportunity for renewal.
“Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy.” What a good reason to sing! Do you often feel the love of God in your life?
A reading from the Letter to the Hebrews
We call Jesus the “Suffering Servant.” Here, we read that he was made “perfect through suffering.” Most of us see suffering as an enormous burden, which it is. Some people seem to have more suffering than others which seems unfair. But suppose suffering has another meaning in our lives? Suppose suffering helped us to grow, to be better persons? That is not to say that we should seek out suffering. It will find us, and when it does, we need to do all we can to avoid it, if we are able.
But there is this other side of suffering that can lead to conversion, repentance, new strength, and the joy that comes from working it through to the other side. Yet sometimes there does not seem to be another side. That is when we most need to share the experience, to reach out to those we love and ask for an ear to listen and a healing hug. We are not meant to be alone in our suffering.
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Mark
There was a tradition in Israel that men could divorce their wives, but wives could not divorce their husbands. Jesus knew this to be grossly unfair and so forbade divorce either way to protect women from rejection and most probably deep poverty. “What God has joined together, no human being must separate.” That is still the teaching, the ideal, but the challenges of modern life leave many marriages broken beyond repair. That is where the loving mercy of God is more powerful than any other reality. Pope Francis is trying to open his arms to those in divorced situations to welcome them into the Church while maintaining the call of Jesus to honor marriage. Let us pray for all our brothers and sisters who entered marriage in good will and now feel left out and let us welcome them into our loving arms.
If you are divorced or separated, please do not let that push you into the further burden of shame or isolation. Do not feel rejected by the Church. If necessary, seek counseling for yourself or for you and your former partner. Maybe the relationship can be healed, but if not, you can be healed through the love of your family and friends. The key is not to isolate yourself but to seek love and comfort from the loving people in your life and especially from the Holy Spirit, your lifelong partner who never leaves you.
Photo by Wilson Sánchez on Unsplash
Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
Bill Ayers was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. Bill was a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.