27 Sunday in Ordinary Time
It sounded like good news when I read the headline last week: Millennials have caused the U.S. divorce rate to plummet by 18% over the past 10 years. Could it be that young people are once again embracing the spirit of our First Reading, “The Creation Story”…where marriage is defined with the words: two become one flesh?
Although frequently proclaimed at the celebration of Christian marriage, the “baby boomers,” even into their 60’s and 70’s, seem to have disregarded God’s call for perfect union between husband and wife. There appears to have been an epidemic of the “hardness of heart” that Jesus mentioned in today’s Gospel. The divorce statistics having accelerated at a staggering rate towards the end of the 20th century, the report of the marked decline…at first glance…sounds like very good news. However, after the headlines came the analysis.
It seems, unfortunately, that the reversal in the trend has little, if anything, to do with young people being more attentive to God’s plan for us by honoring the marriage covenant. The researchers explain that Millennials are delaying marriage until both the man and the woman are well established in their careers. This allows time for them to become more mature and to be “more selective” in choosing a mate. Moreover, the selection process typically involves several trial runs. When a couple finally decides to marry, it is a very deliberate decision. It sounds more like a well thought out business plan than a sacrament. Possibly the most alarming finding from this recent study is that a wedding and marriage have become a form of status symbol enjoyed by the advantaged. Less educated and less prosperous couples simply do not marry, and so, when they separate, they do not need a divorce. The breakdown of these “informal” relationships goes unrecorded.
Where is the good news in all of this?
Maybe we need to shift the focus away from us creatures and how we live and love to our Creator. Our Second Reading enables us to do just that. In the Letter to The Hebrews, we are reminded that, through Jesus, two ACTUALLY DO become One Flesh! This is to say that Jesus unites Creator with creature…Divinity with humanity…in a bond that that will not be broken.
Through Jesus, a new relationship between God and us came into being, a relationship so intimate that The Lord now calls us sisters and brothers. We have become more than creatures. We are now God’s family, and God does family in a much different way than we do. God’s love for family is perfect and unconditional. God’s love for family is patient and forgiving. God’s love for family can never be broken.
In the New Covenant, God has used the voice of His Son Jesus Christ to speak a promise to us. The Lord has promised to have and to hold us…for better, for worse…for richer, for poorer…in sickness and in health…
Through Jesus, God has promised to love and to cherish us…regardless of our hardness of heart…
Through Jesus, God has promised that at the time of our death, the union between God and those who love Him will be perfected in the Kingdom, where, once again, two will become one flesh when we put on Christ.
Through Jesus, God has made wonderful promises to us, and, unlike us, God never breaks a promise.
How can the news get any better?