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A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark 10:1-12

Jesus came into the district of Judea and across the Jordan. Again crowds gathered around him and, as was his custom, he again taught them.

The Pharisees approached him and asked, "Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?" They were testing him.

He said to them in reply, "What did Moses command you?" They replied, "Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her."

But Jesus told them, "Because of the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. 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, no human being must separate."

In the house the disciples again questioned Jesus about this. He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

REFLECTION: "Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate."

God created Adam and Eve for each other and no one else. He likewise created our spouses for us and no one else. In marriage, God unites and sanctifies man and wife. He makes them one body, one heart similar to the union of Christ and his Church. God, the Creator, gives us the vocation and grace to live a life of love, joy and holiness. Husband and wife pray and sacrifice for one another and this human bond ends when one dies. They are not to walk away when it gets tough or if they lust for someone else. They are to work at making their marriage succeed.

In my life, I have met many people and many have shared their lives with me and have taught me many lessons. The real names are not used to protect their identity.

Mr Frank married his childhood sweetheart and they both were happily married. They raised an autistic grandchild. Mrs Frank, in her older years, developed dementia to the point that she was unable to care for her herself and she eventually was admitted to a memory care facility. Her husband would not leave her alone and so he became her roommate at the facility. It is this inseparable love, this "love til death" that makes their marriage so admirable. It is the marriage that God willed for them.

Mr Grant was in an auto accident paralyzed from the waist down. Mrs Grant never left him . Through her encouragement, love , patience and perseverance Mr Grant owns his own business and is extremely independent. Adversity made their love stronger.

Mr and Mrs Ross, were childhood sweethearts. Mrs Ross just recently lost her leg to the ravages of diabetes. Mr Ross takes her to all her doctors appointments and when they speak of their marriage they get so excited and show me pictures of how young they were when they married. There is a bond that illness cannot break.

When a couple gets together for their preparation for Marriage, the priest , in the person of Christ, the Head in the Church, counsels and prepares them for the holy sacrament. In the words of St John Vianney, "The priest continues the work of redemption on earth ....the Priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus." The priest teaches and guides the couple in their journey of love, fidelity and procreation. And he is there to help them during their marriage.

And what a more beautiful sight when the marriage ceremony includes the Mass with the consecration of the host. Jesus is attending, participating in and blessing their wedding. Without the priest none of this would be possible. PAPA prays for priests so that their love of God will be on fire and for them to share this love with others, that they bring souls to God, and that their enthusiasm and love for God be the example for married couples to follow. What a better way to start a marriage--with Jesus Christ in the center of the wedding ceremony. What a better way to start a marriage with a spirit filled priest to guide and encourage the newlyweds. Let us thank God for giving us the opportunity to have such a perfect union.

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