Wednesday Witness: What God Has Joined
Last Sunday's gospel reading began with Jesus' straightforward and strict teaching on marriage and divorce. Even in His time, the Lord's stance on this topic was shockingly strong: "[W]hat God has joined together, no human being must separate." In our current age, when divorce is not only legal, but commonplace and relatively simple, we might find ourselves dwelling on the strictness of this teaching and miss a beautiful deeper message.
One of the great metaphors used to describe Jesus' love for the Church is marriage. St. Paul, in particular, writes about it in Ephesians:
[N]o one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “For this reason a man shall leave [his] father and [his] mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church. – Ephesians 5:29-32
After Mass last weekend, this metaphor occurred to me, and I found myself taking the words of Jesus from the gospel and applying Paul's metaphor:
[F]rom the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man [Jesus] shall leave his father [in heaven] and mother [Mary] and be joined to his wife [the Church], and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh [the Body of Christ, with Jesus the Head]. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate."
It is also easier today to imagine leaving the Catholic Church: to shop innumerable Protestant denominations and churches, or strike out on one's own and embrace an abstract spirituality that seems easier and more affirming in the short term. But in religion, just like in marriage, we are strengthened by our partner's strengths, and by our partner's weaknesses, challenged to love as God loves. In this way, our marriage—to our spouse and to Christ as His bride, the Church—helps to make us holy.
You were born to be a child of God for eternity. You are called to baptism and new life in the Catholic Church. Christ has taken you for His own. And what God has joined together, no human being must separate.