August 18, 2017
Some Pharisees approached Jesus, and tested him, saying, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?” He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘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, man must not separate.” Mt_19:3-12
Within the house, that the Lord has graced my family and me with the pleasure of living in for the past 20-years, there’s a large, brick fireplace in our living room. Our house is basically a ranch with, what they call a ‘walk out basement.’ And this fireplace is on the main, or upper floor.
And even though we bought the house new, it was designed and built before we ever set eyes on it. So I can’t take credit for designing that fireplace, but our family has certainly enjoyed its presence over the years.
Now if you’ve ever seen pictures of tornado ravaged neighborhoods or bombed out towns in WWII, what you often see remaining of the houses are just their fireplaces, standing there like monuments from the ground to the sky in a barren wasteland of rubble.
You see, there is an aspect of permanency in fireplaces that makes them nearly indestructible, at least to fire, and wind, and sometimes, even bombs. So for example, you could imagine how our fireplace, being on the second floor, would have to have a huge foundation running from it, all the way down into the ground, in order to hold all that weight.
And you can also imagine that it took quite a lot of work by the builder to set it in place.
And so we set the stage for today’s readings.
You see, just like the permanency of our fireplace, today we see the permanency of God’s love and mercy, both through His covenant with the Israelites, and with us, in the covenant of Holy Matrimony.
And neither covenant came free or easy.
In order for God to deliver the Israelites, He not only had to perform great and mighty deeds, like leading them across huge bodies of water, through barren deserts and against mighty armies, but He also had to battle against their own attitudes of desperation, hopelessness, independence and rebellion because of their lack of faith.
Yet, in His unshakable Mercy, God had built a Foundation for the Jews that’s endured all the way up to the present time, over 4000-years.
You see, there is a permanency in the relationship between God and the Israelites that is unbreakable. And so it should be with us as well.
Our exercise in that permanency comes through the example of the marriage covenant. So when the Pharisees taunted Jesus with the question of divorce, His simple answer rested upon the same Foundation that God had built in His relationship with them.
Jesus said, “What God has joined together, man must not separate.”
And of course, then comes the maintenance part of that covenant relationship between husband, wife and God. And that’s – the not free or easy part!
Just like the Israelites, we have to battle with our own attitudes of desperation, hopelessness, independence, rebellion and lack of faith in God, who binds us all together. We have to battle an enemy who wants nothing less than to rip us apart, eat us up and spit us out into the burning fires of hell.
You see, if I got tired of my fireplace and tried to rip it out, I’d probably find that most of my house would just crumble down with it in the rubble.
And if I instead decided to hide it behind a new wall, I’d also always know that it still exists there, unseen, but always present.
And so it is with Marriage. Maybe we’ve suffered the devastation of a divorce. Maybe we’ve endured the struggle of maintaining a difficult marriage. Or maybe we’ve just been blissfully married for eons. Whatever our own personal experience with marriage is or was, if we keep our faith in God, God will always see us through, because His love for us is permanent and eternal. And that’s what we must strive for in our marriage!
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