Friday, January 9, 2015

Marriage's Scripture Jackpot

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About five years ago I was at my niece’s birthday party and I had a wonderful, although brief, conversation with one of the fathers of my niece’s friends.  He was not a Catholic, but I was fairly sure he was Christian.  He asked what I did, so I shared that I was a graduate student studying Catholic theology, specifically marriage and the family.  He seemed genuinely interested and asked a specific question that I do not recall in detail, but sparked a genuine conversation, short as it was. 

You see, his question prompted me to succinctly share for undoubtedly the first time in my life that, “as Catholics we believe that if we lose our capacity to understand the richness of marriage we’ll lose our capacity to receive the love that God demonstrates for his children all throughout Sacred Scripture.”  He exclaimed, “Wow, that’s fascinating.  I’ve never thought about it like that before.”   After that, his child needed him,  so our conversation could not continue, but the exchange has stuck with me because it was an illuminating experience.  It gave me a taste of how sharing the mind of my Mother was indeed not an imposition of dogma on someone, rather, it was an invitation into truth that had the potential to magnify his or her joy in life.

I suspect that if we had more time to converse he would have liked to have known a scripture reference for my bold claim.  So, for all the anonymous-playground-birthday-party-acquaintance dads out there, here you go: take a look at Matthew 18-19.

Matthew 18:1-4: You must understand what it is that children reveal about the kingdom.  You cannot learn from children if you are not around them.  Where is the best place for children to come from and teach adults in close proximity?  Marriage and family life!   
Charamelody, "33:365 Devotion" is licensed under CC by NC 2.0

5-6: all children come with a “built in” belief in God.  Being the cause of another person’s loss of belief in God is a serious matter, just as nurturing it is.  Where can faith, hope and love best be nurtured?  Marriage and family life!

7-9: [a decidedly modern interpretation] pornography is easily available in our contemporary culture, but if it is your stash/search history/DVD as a parent that leads your child into the addiction you will be particularly accountable for your actions.  Where can a generation of innocent hearts be cultivated so that they can readily see God?  Marriage and family life!

10-14: The Father does not take any of his children for granted and he tires of neither new life nor  preserving/restoring “old” life.  Where do lives begin and end?  Marriage and family life!

15-20: By definition, marriage binds two spouses together so that they can safely beget a third in their children.  Where is the privileged dwelling place of the Word made flesh?  Joseph’s and Mary’s marriage and family life!     

21-22: God’s upper limit on forgiveness is infinite.  Where ought to be the first classroom of this for the Christian spouse/parent/child?  Marriage and family life!

23-35: If you pray the Our Father and receive God’s forgiveness then you must pass it along too.  Where is this unending proving ground going to be established in our lives?  Marriage and family life! 

Matthew 19:1-2: because no one can do the above on their own God will provide the healing through the waters of baptism and the other sacraments.  Where do infants and converts come from?  Marriage and family life!

3-9: divorce has no place in God’s plan for men and women.  It is a consequence of sin and now that Christ has come and given us access to the Father we now also have access to God’s original plan for marriage to be indissoluble.  Where does one learn the lessons that circumcise the heart and turn it from stone to flesh?  Where does one taste undying love or love unaffected by changing emotions?  Marriage and family life! 

10-12: Yikes, indissoluble marriage is not even attractive to fallen man.  So where does one learn God’s full plan for humanity which includes the possibility of forgoing the good of marriage in this life for a walk with the Lord that is more directly conformed to his example of being poor, chaste [celibate] and obedient?  Marriage and family life! 

13-15: Again, it is stressed, Jesus wants to encounter children.  Where do we encounter children in the most life changing way?  Marriage and family life!

16-22: Earthly possessions and God are vying for the same real estate of our hearts.  You cannot serve both simultaneously, you have to choose one.  What context can most powerfully teach us that we will be OK even if we do not have a Coach purse, Ray Ban glasses, 7 series BMW and Rolex watch?  Marriage and family life!   

23-30: Rely on God for your salvation and the pathway to it.  We all come from families and hopefully married parents, why not hit the pause button on life and see which route God is calling you back to himself if you do not know already: marriage and family life or celibacy [which is a fruitful sacrifice because it is giving up the profound good of marriage]?    

I see a theme and I think you might too. Scripture is a “jackpot” when it comes to understanding marriage because our Mother, the church, always begins there as well. Therefore in sharing what she knows to be true, we also share the truths of Scripture, even if we don't quote it directly.

Won’t you share your own jackpot of Scripture on marriage and family life? 

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