by Deacon Stephen Bowling
It’s that time of year when again Ordinary Time makes a short appearance in our lives . . . and I always love it when we hear Matthew’s gospel like we are doing this cycle.
The Beatitudes are always one of the very first readings we hear; fitting since they are the beginning of the famous “Sermon on the Mount” to which Matthew devotes three whole Chapters. Every time I get to proclaim that Gospel I find myself hardly looking at the text, I know it so well, as I think many of us do.
To me, one of the most powerful aspects of the well-known words of the Beatitudes is the fact that every one of them is, at their heart, a call to “right relationship;” every one tells us how we are to live, both in relation to God as well as with each other. Each one is a promise from God to us . . . if we can only let ourselves “be right” with others, we will ultimately be rewarded by Him. God very much wishes us to be in “right relationship” in all that we do, and he gave us these eight beautiful roadmaps on how we can make it a reality.
Nowhere is “right relationship” better encapsulated than in the marital relationship.
As the Church teaches, marriage is the life-affirming, permanent and indissoluble bonding of a man and a woman together for life. Indeed, the dignity and sanctity of marriage flows inexorably from that same inherent dignity and sanctity that human life itself possesses . . . which should be no surprise as both were lovingly created by God himself at the very beginning.
While everyday married life may not feel quite so “lofty” as this teaching makes it sound, there is no doubt that goodness and holiness is the intended outcome of such a union . . . just ask anyone married for very many years and they will tell you such. Right relationship may be hard work – most things that are worthwhile generally are – but in order to form our marriages as God intends, it is certainly worth every effort, even through those many tough times that we all face.
By living for the good of the other in the marital relationship, the salvation and betterment of both people is made attainable . . . rather like our relationship with God himself.
It is no accident that marriage reflects the divine life in us; God gave us this marvelous gift so we may better understand and experience him as well as our beloved. In this wonderful month where we so especially celebrate the joys of married love, let us always remember to witness its joys wherever possible to our friends, neighbors and everyone we encounter.
God’s great gift of married love deserves nothing less!