TWENTY-SEVENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

What is Love on this Earth?

First Reading (Gen 2:18-24): Creation of woman and establishment of marriage
Second Reading (Heb 2: 9-11): Jesus willingly suffered for the welfare of humankind
Gospel (Mk 10:2-16): The problem of divorce; the blessing of children

Chinese culture: -“It's spring again along the paths of the south of the city. Only plum flowers and not my beloved is in sight; her bones have long become the soil underneath the earth. Traces of my calligraphy are still covered by the dust on the walls.”(1) -
“In the city the sun is setting and the horn sounds sad. Shum Garden cannot recover its old ponds and terraces. Sadly I look down at the green spring waves under the bridge, once they reflected her grace and beauty.”(2)

From the beginning of creation, God made them male and f 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.” (Mk 10: 6-9).

What God has joined together, let no one separate.” And yet, in the real world, there are not a few people who want to undo what God has joined together. Some of them become a ‘third person’ and break up others' marriages. Others separate themselves from their original spouses – both parties find convincing reasons or excuses and mutually agree to separate.

A few years ago I sometimes joked that marriages I had blessed were solid as rock and would remain that way. Today I would not dare to make such a claim, for some of those ‘rocks’ have fallen apart. I have seen marriages that I blessed fail, one after another. Twenty years ago, the divorce rate throughout the world was 20-30%. Today, in some so-called developed countries, the divorce rate already has reached 50%. Right after the wedding ceremony, we can even laugh and say farewell to the newly-weds!

We cannot deny that, even though God's power brought these two people together, sometimes it is defeated by these same two people who lose hope. This might help us better understand St. Augustine's words, ‘When God created you he did not need you, but to save you, God needs you.’

Isn't it the same for two people who want to sustain a happy and long-lasting marriage? Without the couple's sincere, patient and persevering cooperation, what can Almighty God do for their marriage?

Catholic theology speaks of the relationship between God and human beings in two different ways, one stresses God's initiative, the other emphasizes human initiative. I once saw a poster which said, ‘If God does not reach out to us human beings, we are not able to touch God.’ That is an entirely correct theological viewpoint. But I prefer to believe it this way: ‘God’s hand has already reached out to every person; we only need to stretch out our hands and we will be able to touch God.’ Perhaps that is more in keeping with the spirit of Augustine's theology. God's grace is like the rain falling from heaven, nourishing every corner of the earth. God's love is like the sunshine, warming and shining on the whole world. If we have prepared ourselves well, we are ready to receive the plentiful rain and under the warmth of the sun, grow happily to maturity.

Though divorce has become a common phenomenon in today's society, there are still couples whose love for each other and their marriage bond is for life. Even death cannot diminish their everlasting love and mutual admiration for each other. In the actual world today, there are many, many couples who celebrate their Silver and Golden wedding anniversaries, to our great admiration!. Among those whom we admire for their great passion of conjugal love was a patriotic poet, Lou You.

Lou You had married his cousin Tang Yuan. They loved each other dearly but Lou You's mother was against the marriage and the lovers were forced to separate. One day Lou You met Tang Yuan in the Shen Garden. Both of them felt very sad. As a gift to Tang Yuan and to express his sorrow and misery, Lou You wrote a piece of poetry called “Phoenix on the Hairpin.” Soon after this encounter Tang Yuen died of depression. Forty years later Lou You, by then over seventy, again visited Shen Garden. He felt that though people had changed, his own deep feelings had not. As he looked at the neglected courtyard, he felt his loneliness and brokenness intensely. He then wrote two poems: “In the city the sun is setting and the horn sounds sad, Shen Garden cannot recover its old ponds and terraces; Sadly I look down at the green spring waves under the bridge. Once they reflected her grace and beauty.”(2)

‘It is forty years since your death and our dreams were broken. The willows in Shen Garden have grown old and sway no more; This body is moving towards death But still I mourn my losing you with tears.” (Lou You, “Shen Garden”)

Another ten years passed and Lou You was already 81 years old, so old that he could hardly walk. But Shen Garden and Tang Yuan still were deeply engraved in his heart. He wrote another two poems. In one of them he wrote: “It is spring again along the paths of the south of the city Only plum flowers and my beloved is not in sight;

Her bones have long become the soil underneath the earth, Traces of my calligraphy are still covered by the dust on the walls.”(1)

Lou You was a patriot all his life. He loved his country and the people, but this did not diminish what he felt for his beloved: deep love, tenderness, devotion, passion, and everlasting love.

Marriage requires love and also needs affection. If life has become dull and appears to have become routine and mechanical, and we realize we are tending to take life for granted, it may be time for a couple to look for opportunities to revive their original ardour and “re-ignite” the flame of love again. This is surely a good way to cooperate with the grace God gifted them with at the time of their marriage.

Let us pray to God to bless all lovers, that in the love of God, they can become ‘one,’ loving and caring for each other until all eternity.

(1)城南小陌又逢春,只見梅花不見人;玉骨久成泉下土, 墨痕猶鎖壁間塵。
(2)城上斜陽畫角哀,沈園非復舊池台;傷心橋下春波綠, 曾是驚鴻照影來。