First things first. Today is the feast of St Kolbe, a priest who died in a Auschwitz when he chose to take the place of a prisoner who asked for mercy and to be spared for the sake of his wife and children.
Hear are a few quotes by St Kolbe for meditation on this friday on the eve of the Feast of The Assumption of the Blessed Mother into Heaven.
Kolbe was canonized as saint by Pope John Paul II in 1982. Below are ten of his quotes.
1. No one in the world can change Truth. What we can do and and should do is to seek truth and to serve it when we have found it. The real conflict is the inner conflict. Beyond armies of occupation and the hetacombs of extermination camps, there are two irreconcilable enemies in the depth of every soul: good and evil, sin and love. And what use are the victories on the battlefield if we are ourselves are defeated in our innermost personal selves?
2. [Jesus] remains among us until the end of the world. He dwells on so many altars, though so often offended and profaned.
3. The most deadly poison of our time is indifference. And this happens, although the praise of God should know no limits. Let us strive, therefore, to praise him to the greatest extent of our powers.
4. A single act of love makes the soul return to life.
5. The Cross is the school of love.
6. Let us remember that love lives through sacrifice and is nourished by giving...Without sacrifice there is no love.
7. For a book from which to learn how to grow in the love of God, there is no better book than Jesus Christ crucified.
8. If angels could be jealous of men, they would be so for one reason: Holy Communion.
9. Courage, my sons. Don't you see that we are leaving on a mission? They pay our fare in the bargain. What a piece of good luck! The thing to do now is to pray well in order to win as many souls as possible. [Said when he was first arrested.]
10. For Jesus Christ I am prepared to suffer still more.
Now for today's readings.
Joshua in the first reading is giving his farewell. Soon the leadership of the nation of Israel will be handed over to "judges" whom God will sent to continually redirect the people on the right path. But until then, Joshua wants to remind the people of Israel what actually happened in their past, in their history.
The the main theme through out the history of Israel is one simple thing, "Thus says the LORD, I brought you…" This is the common theme throughout this passage and through out the life of Israel. God is personally active in the unfolding of their lives. In fact the entire history of Israel is a gift as God clearly points out through Joshua, "I gave you…"
St Paul will reiterate this same sentiment in one of his letters when he states, "name one thing you do not have that is not a gift." Life is a gift. History unfolds with God being actively involved. We may not always like how it unfolds. God does restrain himself at times since he gives us freedom. There is much pain and hurt that is caused not by him directly but our own undoing, yet he remains with us to guide us and see us through.
Even God's permissive will is a gift for us that we might be fully engaged in all freedom to move ourselves along his path of righteousness.
In the Gospel, we encounter that familiar teaching on marriage, which makes many cringe with guilt and others glad with jubilation.
First, it is clear that marriage as Jesus sees it is meant to between a man and a woman, "Have you not read from the beginning he created them, male and female and said for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one? So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate."
"Whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery."
In our society where we want marriage to be whatever we desire it to be it is good to go back to the beginning and look again at God's purpose and plan for marriage between a man and a wife. The original context that Jesus directs us to is the garden of Eden, a time before original sin entered the world. This then becomes the paradigm for understanding the purpose of marriage even here and now admist the effects of original sin and the distortion that has accompanied that sin which we see on a regular basis, particularly on the desire to redefine marriage, as our supreme court mistakenly thought it had the authority to do so.
From the beginning is where we must begin, not from our current misunderstandings and perverse views.
Secondly, Jesus quotes Genesis in the fact that "what God has joined let no man separate."
This can be looked at in several ways. First, God is the one who has joined male and female together in the bond of marriage and thus it is to him we look for a deeper insight about marriage not supreme court judges and senators and congressman or even presidents.
The other way is that not all marriages between man and woman is ordained by God. There are many who get married for all the wrong reasons. It is not binding because of these flawed reasons and motivations that drove them to marriage in the first place, as we hear Jesus say, "unless the marriage is unlawful."
This unlawful marriage could be considered so for several reasons. This is where the law of the Church in regards to annulments comes in. There is a process to investigate the intent and motivation of a couple in getting marriage so that justice could ultimately be served. Marriage is serious business. The church is cautious in pronouncing annulments, nonetheless, it does recognize the fact that sometimes men and women get married for the wrong reasons and their attempt at marriage is an invalid one because of these reasons or impediments.
The process of Annulment is meant to be a healing process. It is meant to give the man or wife or both an opportunity to look back to see more clearly what marriage means and how to move forward.
It is also important to remember it takes two to get married. Sometimes, one party is completely involved in the marriage with good intentions while the other is not.
It can be a hairy business at time. Having journeyed with couples seeking annulments, having journeyed with couples trying to stay married and not get divorced, it is not often as clear as the written word makes it. Much grace is required for the unfolding of God's plan and purpose for individual couples to be made manifest.
None the less, we continually hold firm to our foundation as Jesus presents it. The marriage is considered valid until proven otherwise. Sometime it is obviously wrong. Sometimes not so obvious. Yet, we do make mistakes. God is merciful. God forgives and heals that we might have life and have it to its full and joy abundant in this life as we continue to walk with him.