October 10, 2021 – 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/101021.cfm)
In a recent Facebook post, a young man named Seth Adam Smith who, after being married for a year and a half, realized, and said: “Marriage is not for me.” Why…? After all these months of marriage, eventually he comes to appreciate that his father’s advice before his wedding. Before wedding, His dad said to him: “Seth, Marriage is not for you. You don’t marry to make yourself happy. You marry to make someone else happy. More than that, marriage is not for yourself. You are marrying for a family and for your future children. Marriage is not for you. It is not about you. Marriage is about the person you married.”
Surely married couples could relate to such realization or advice. For marriage is indeed not really for the sake of oneself but for the sake of your lifetime partner. Eventually married couple has to learn along the way that marriage is not all about “I” or about “Me” but all about “US”. And surely such realization is a hard-learned lesson, for such wisdom only happens through trial-and-error experiences. To be selfless, i.e. to be not selfish and self-centered then is the very challenge of committed love we called marriage. For love is more than just a feeling or emotion but a commitment and decision to go beyond and give up oneself for the sake of the other.
In our gospel today, wanting more than just observing and obeying God’s commandments, the rich man asked Jesus for an advice as to how to inherit eternal life. As Jesus, with and in love, counselled and challenged him to give up and share everything to the poor and follow Jesus instead, the rich man however went away sad for he had many possessions. With this, we hear Jesus’ well-known words, “Children, how hard it is to enter the Kingdom” – harder than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. And sadly, we also unwittingly misquote & misuse these words as our usual excuse for our failures and shortcomings in life-commitment, as well as for thinking and even believing that God’s salvation and eternal life is difficult, impossible, and even exclusive only for the few.
Nonetheless Jesus teaches us in our gospel today that Eternal life with God’s salvation is more than just our longing for sacredness and holiness in life, and our search for contentment and happiness in life. For Jesus, life with God is all about having and being in covenant & committed relationship with God. In other words, eternal life is all about being married to God, and also requires of us to have Marriage with God. No wonder why ordained, consecrated, and married life is sometimes described as: “a life married to God” for it is indeed a marriage – a loving commitment to God. And since eternal life is our Marriage to God, we may also say that our marriage to God is not FOR us, because committed life with God is not about us, and not for ourselves alone, but for the sake of, and all about God’s glory and salvation for all others than just us.
Jesus also somehow teaches us today that like any marriages, our life with God involves detachment, charity, and discipleship. Same way as the rich man is asked to give up and share everything to the poor. To live life with God, we must also learn detachment, i.e. how to give up, even deny ourselves, and share what we have to other and for others. As married to-God people, our life: our time, talent, and treasure are not for us alone but for God and others than ourselves. Life with God also requires us to be and do everything with and for charity, i.e. not for a prize or reward, but for free and out of love, and in responsibility for others.
And above all, life with God is to be a disciple – a follower of Jesus in life. As people married to God, we must also then learn to lead our lives same way as Jesus lives, serves, and loves God and others. Detachment, Charity, and Discipleship are somehow key ingredients in our Marriage to God, and as to any committed-relationship as well.
As Jesus forewarned us, difficult and impossible for us it may be, such life in marriage to God is also possible, since “All things are possible For God”. In other words, Life with God is possible and meaningful, if and when we do things and have our being not for ourselves but for God’s sake, and for others than ourselves.
Lord guide us continually in life for us to know God deeply, love Him dearly, and follow Him faithfully especially now, during these trying pandemic time & always. Amen.