I have a very fine young friend who is planning to marry in the near future. He is about thirty years old, and, typical of that generation, he spent some of his earlier life alienated from the Church and in a sinful relationship with a young woman. But now he has come back to the Church and to the sacraments, and has met a young woman who shares his views on God, morality, chastity, family life, commitment, and the dignity of human life, and they are planning to marry. I received an email message from him yesterday. With that message fresh in my mind, I celebrated Mass this morning and read the striking scriptural passages appointed to be read today.
In the first of them, God is speaking to his chosen people, Israel, through the lips of the prophet Ezekiel. He points out to Israel how he found her as an abandoned baby girl in the desert. He cared for her, adopted her, treated her like a young princess, and eventually fell in love with her and married her. But then, she rejected him, became a prostitute and gave herself to every man who desired her. But God forgives her unfaithfulness and her promiscuity and pardons her for all that she has done.
Then, in the gospel, Our Lord points out to us that from the beginning, God made us male and female and intends that a man cling to his wife and they become ONE FLESH, as Jesus says. In the Genesis account of creation, God the Father says to them that they will become ONE BODY. This oneness of husband and wife, as close as one part of the body is to another, is one of the most beautiful aspects of human relationships. It is the basis of human life; from it life emerges, for by the union of man and wife, children are conceived, born, and reared. Thus human sexuality is the source of life, and if life is to be as God intends it, then sexuality must be used as God intends. I remember being shocked some years ago when our travel group arrived in Jamaica on a cruise. Several of us took a tour of that area, and in the course of the tour, we spoke to our taxi-driver about life there. The subject of marriage came up, and he said, “Oh, we don’t get married here; we just live together.” Amazed by this sweeping statement, we pressed him for an explanation. He admitted that “a few” people, usually the wealthy who wanted a big, splashy wedding, get married, but for the most part, the Jamaicans don’t marry. I’m not sure how true this is; he may have simply been projecting his own lifestyle upon his country in general. I also wonder how many of those Jamaican couples who live in unmarried cohabitation are faithful to each other until death. I imagine about as many as are faithful to each other, married or not, in our country. How sad! What a distortion of God’s plan for human happiness and holiness and the proper rearing of children!
Commitment, fidelity, honesty, and the keeping of one’s word are all characteristics of high quality and virtue in human life and relationships. Their opposites spell trashiness, low quality, sin, and unhappiness both in this life and, I fear, in many cases, the next life as well. The proper preparation of young people for marriage is one of the most important things that parents, teachers, and the Church can do in terms of assuring that God’s plans will be carried out and his children will be happy both in this life and forever. Thank you for seeking God’s truth, God Bless you. Father Victor Brown.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.