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What’s the toughest question that a child has ever asked you? Pope Francis shared with those gathered recently at the World Meeting of Families Festival in Philadelphia that once a child asked him a very difficult question: “Holy Father, what did God do before creating the world?” He admitted that was a very difficult question to answer. After thinking awhile the Pope answered the child, “Before creating the world, God loved. Because God is love.” He then went on to explain that the most beautiful thing that God created was the family. He said, “All of the love that God has in himself, all the beauty that he has in himself, he gives it to the family. And the family is really family when it is able to open its arms and receive all that love.” However, Pope went on to explain that we sometimes destroy this beauty of the family because “we are a bit confused.” The first human family of Adam and Eve allowed the devil to enter their lives and to separate their love for each other and for God. This loss of love spilled over to their children, Cain and Abel which resulted in a family tragedy--jealousy between brothers lead to a murder.
It is evident that in scriptures this weekend, God wants us to be able to experience faithfulness and love. Not the kind that comes and goes but the steadfast and unfailing love that looks and feels like God. At the time of Jesus, the Jewish laws held high ideal of chastity and faithfulness in marriage. However, the lived lives of ordinary Jews fell far short of the ideals. In fact, the Jewish law regarded woman as an object; she had no legal rights whatsoever, but was at the complete disposal of the male head of the family. At that time, men divorced their wives for the most trivial reasons, and women hesitated to marry at all because marriage was so insecure. With that in mind, the Pharisees wanted to test Jesus whether he held heretical views about about marriage, divorce, and remarriage in contrary to the established laws. But Jesus rebuffed them by pointing out the hardness of their hearts--hearts closed to the love that God desires to pour into families. Jesus told the Pharisees, "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 our own time, what do we observe? We know that within our families we have divorce and remarriage. Often times, the divorce is not because of trivial reasons--there may have been unfaithfulness, physical abuse, unchastity, lack of maturity, addiction, selfishness--which led to fracturing of spousal love and family. And yes, our children suffer irreparably in the process. Yet God puts in our midst couples who may not be perfect, but strive to live daily lives of selflessness, sacrifice, and faithfulness. Perhaps the couple is your own mom and dad, or your grandparents.
-Fr. Paul Yi