Monday, November 25, 2013

“Will all of you witnessing these promises do all in your power to uphold these two persons in their marriage?”

On this Monday in the last week of the Church year we hear from the Gospel according to Matthew:

When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. Large crowds followed him, and he cured them there.

Some Pharisees came to him, and to test him they asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?’ He answered, ‘Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning “made 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 flesh”? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’ They said to him, ‘Why then did Moses command us to give a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her?’ He said to them, ‘It was because you were so hard-hearted that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but at the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another commits adultery.’

His disciples said to him, ‘If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.’ But he said to them, ‘Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.’ (Mt. 19:1-10).

This Gospel reading can be a difficult one for many.  This is a society where divorce is a daily event.  The divorce rate in America for first marriages is 41%, for second marriages is 60% and for third marriages is 73%.  According to age, here are the statistics:

Age at marriage for those who divorce in America (2011)

Under 20 years old
20 to 24 years old
25 to 29 years old
30 to 34 years old
35 to 39 years old



Note that the majority of divorces occur before the age of 30 for both men and women.  There is a definite lack of commitment and of placing the other first.  That is what Jesus called us to, faithfulness in our relationships, and especially so in marriage.  The only exception Jesus makes is when the spouse breaks that covenantal faithfulness.

Our task as a Christian community, as a people of faith, is to uphold those who are married.  In the rite of marriage, the priest asks the people: “Will all of you witnessing these promises do all in your power to uphold these two persons in their marriage?”  And the people answer: “We will.”  You and I need to take this promise seriously.

Let us pray:  O gracious and everliving God, you have created us male and female in your image: Look mercifully upon all who are married, and assist them with your grace, that with true fidelity and steadfast love they may honor and keep the promises and vows they make; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.


For our Adult Christian Formation this Advent we will study the reflections and writings of C.S. Lewis in A World Awaits: Daily Reflections for Advent.  We will meet at 11:00 a.m. each Sunday in Advent.

Please remember everyone on our Prayer List.

Your servant in Christ,

Fr. Chester J. Makowski+
St. Augustine of Hippo Episcopal Church
Galveston, Texas 77550

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