The early Christian community was plagued with divisions that had to be addressed. Jesus’ teachings on reconciliation and forgiveness are reminders of God’s gracious mercy and willingness to begin anew whenever we recognize our failings and return to him. So the discussion on divorce is a perfect follow-up. If Jesus instructs Peter to forgive seventy/seventy-seven/seventy times seven times, how does this all figure in the communion of the marriage covenant? Jesus’ response? No difference. God’s decision to be in a covenant relationship with his people is what motivates him to keep pursuing them despite their idolatry, despite their unfaithfulness. God does not go back on his word. God is always faithful, always calling us to repentance and reconciliation. Reminds me of Francis Thompson’s “Hound of Heaven.”
So in the marriage covenant, even if Moses allowed divorce–because of the hardness of your hearts–it was not what God intended from the beginning. And some will not be able to accept this teaching. But it doesn’t change what God intended from the beginning. Divorce was a concession for the hardness of your hearts. When selfishness and sin separates us from God, it is not what God intended for us from the beginning either. But God is patient. God will permit us to stray, even to reject him, to be unfaithful and to worship other gods. It will be a disappointment to God. But our waywardness does not change what God intended for us from the beginning. See the pattern here? God will not give up pursuing us and calling us to repentance and reconciliation … all the way to our final breath. I’m sure God has found a way even if we have resisted his love from the beginning.
The reading from Ezekiel concludes, “For I will re-establish my covenant with you, that you may know that I am the Lord, that you may remember and be covered with confusion, and that you may be utterly silenced for shame when I pardon you for all you have done, says the Lord God.” When it dawns on us what God intended from the beginning, we will be utterly silenced for shame, for our unfaithfulness, for our hardness of heart. But God’s mercy will endure forever.
This mass was offered for the repose of +Gary Kessler.
Rolo B Castillo © 2020