The Prelate’s Sermon (July 25, 2021)
Today, on the third Sunday of the Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Gospel reading is from Saint Matthew 19:3-12. The Pharisees, thinking that by invoking the authority of Moses their position becomes unchallengeable, question Jesus if “it is lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?”
Divorce, which is a moral, ethical, and frequently religious issue, has been a serious social concern since antiquity. There is no doubt that physical, psychological, social, behavioral, financial, and other factors or interests are involved with this poignant problem which causes the malfunctioning of this noble and fundamental infrastructure of society. Therefore, let us learn from our Heavenly Teacher a positive approach to this critical issue.
- Our Lord, faithful to His teaching style, whenever challenged with a tricky question, goes to the roots of that negative phenomenon, as a deviation from the Divine Ordinance. Knowing well the intention of those who were tempting Him, Jesus presents the Blue Print of Marriage designed by the Creator before the Fall, and reminds them that, “God created the human being in His image and likeness, in the image and likeness of God He created them; male and female He created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and be responsible for it’” (Gen 1:27).
- It is very crucial to understand the Scripture’s message reconfirmed by our Lord Jesus Christ. God created humanity in His image and likeness; therefore, Love being the essence of the Creator and the gravity of the Creation, Love became the sacred bond between a husband and wife, and their union should reflect and mirror the original Image of Love. As in light there is no darkness, likewise by living in the invisible presence of God, who is LOVE par excellence, couples enjoy the fullness of bliss.
- In Paradise, the Evil one interfered, deceived, and led our foreparents away from God, their original essence of love. To this very day, and using every means (and often meanness), the Evil one tries to break the true nature of the love which binds husband and wife. Thus, unfortunately, they lose the most precious thing which leads to separation, to divorce, which even in secular terminology, as defined by lawyers, is a form of experiencing death.
- Saint Paul, an advocate of Christian understanding, knew very well that love is one of the most used common words which has emotional, sexual, spiritual, poetical, and rhetorical connotations. Having explored and discovered the true nature of Love, as a spiritual chemist, by analyzing Love “in a Divine Laboratory”, Paul provides us with a solid prescription, that Love is the perfection of patience, understanding, forgiveness, kindness, humility, and gentleness (1 Cor 13:4-8). Whenever couples are challenged by all the above-mentioned factors and interests, they are encouraged to use this miraculous and healing cure proposed by the Apostle and ratified by our Lord Jesus Christ. With Love, they will overcome adversities, and their love-bond will be greatly strengthened and beautified.
- Those who are familiar with the Scriptures know well that in addition to the first encounter of the creation of humanity, there is a second version in which God took one of the ribs of Adam and shaped it into a woman (Gen 2:18-25). This second version, while significantly different from the first, is complementary to the first story of Creation. According to a Talmudic interpretation, God did not take a piece from the foot of Adam in order that the woman would not be despised, neither from the head so that she would not to be haughty, but rather from the rib in the middle so that henceforth, the man and the woman would be equals.
With this great teaching of mutual understanding and respect, when couples lay the foundation of their relationship, they will be like a wise man who built his house on rock, resisting all rains, floods, and storms (Mt 7:24-25). The more they nurture their relationship with these values, they will witness the blossoming of their love, and they will be ever-green and fruitful like the olive tree, fulfilling the mission bestowed upon them by the Creator, and worthily to be crowned by Him and praise Him. Amen.