Do not complain, brothers and sisters, about one another,
that you may not be judged.
Behold, the Judge is standing before the gates.
Take as an example of hardship and patience, brothers and sisters,
the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
Indeed we call blessed those who have persevered.
You have heard of the perseverance of Job,
and you have seen the purpose of the Lord,
because the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
Hearing once again Jesus' teachings about marriage and the Apostle James' exhortation about judgement, I can't help but remember Pope Francis' widely quoted quip, "Who am I to judge?"
I'm sure that remark can be correctly interpretted in one or two ways and misinterpretted in thousands, but I find it helps to keep an open mind. The challenge of homosexuality is not going away. Lawmakers and judges are reading it as a civil right comparable to that of African-American civil rights. The struggle for recognition of homosexual marriage -- which still sounds like an oxymoron to me -- is surmounting legal, social and religious barriers.
I am not one to fight to the last man or to keep firing until I've run out of ammunition. I prefer to retreat, wait and see. I don't expect anything good to come of it, but marriage has been "in trouble" for a very long time, apparently since Adam blamed Eve for what he had done. I will watch as the Gates of Hell storm against it to see what happens.
Certainly, the Catholic Church will not redefine marriage to include same-sex couples. There is nothing in the Scriptures to indicate Jerusalem was anything but the feminine betrothed of God, and the Church is the female bride of Jesus. The scriptures cannot be rewritten to accomodate the latest Newspeak. The life-long, committed, faithful covenant of a man and a woman -- who are willing to conceive, though not to manufacture, children -- will stand above our moral landscape like gleaming alabaster cities, undimmed by human tears.
This watchful, hopeful posture will require "the perseverance of Job." We can do this because we have seen "the purpose of the Lord" who teaches us that a man and woman are bound together in marriage as Jesus is bound to his Church. Divorce is inconceivable, despite innumerable challenges. God will not abandon us. He has bound himself to us by a bond that can never be broken, the resurrected person of Jesus Christ.
In the VA I meet a lot of divorced Veterans. Many of them are in daily contact with their ex-wives, who care for them in their sickness. There is the truth of Jesus' teaching, "What God has joined together cannot be put asunder."
I attended a meeting of friars many years ago. It was during the first decade after the Second Vatican Council and there was a lot of discontent in the community. I was only a new member but I had my own list of grievances to add to the pile.
After several days of unmitigated grumbling, one of the friars -- who was no model of patience -- reminded us that we expected a cross when we made our vows, so "Why are you complaining? Anyone who puts his hand to the plow -- or to the cross -- and turns back is not fit for the Kingdom of God. Get over it!"
We did. It took a while.
Marriage, like all the other sacraments, is about the cross. It is a two-edged sword penetrating between soul and spirit, joints and marrow. Those who want marriage without the cross will find only heart-break and divorce. Those who willingly bear the cross will know everlasting joy.
Marriage is a thing of beauty, a joy forever, as the poet John Keats said,
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.