“When this love fails – because many times it fails – we have to feel the pain of the failure, (we must) accompany those people who have had this failure in their love. Do not condemn. Walk with them,” the Pope encouraged in his Feb. 28 daily Mass.
Directing his homily to those present in the chapel of the Vatican's Saint Martha guesthouse, the pontiff began by referring to the attitude of the Pharisees in the day's Gospel, taken from Mark, in which they question Jesus on divorce, trying to make him fall into a trap with the law.
Although the question is important, the Pope warned against falling into the temptation of “special pleading” regarding questions of marriage, and noted that the Pharisees' method is always “casuistry – is this licit or not?”
“It is always the small case. And this is the trap, behind casuistry, behind casuistic thought, there is always a trap: against people, against us, and against God, always,” he explained.
Calling attention to Jesus' response, the Pope observed how he referred back to the law prescribed by Moses, saying that he only allowed divorce in certain cases because of the hardness of man's heart.
“But He doesn’t stop there,” continued the pontiff, “from (the study of the particular case), He goes to the heart of the problem, and here He goes straight to the days of Creation.”
“That reference of the Lord is so beautiful,” he noted, “‘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.'”
Explaining how God “did not want man to be alone,” but wanted him to have a “companion along the way,” the pontiff recalled the moment when Adam meets Eve, saying that this moment “is the beginning of love: (a couple) going together as one flesh.”
Repeating that fact that the Lord “always takes casuistic thought and brings it to the beginning of revelation,” Pope Francis went on to explain that “this masterpiece of the Lord is not finished there, in the days of Creation, because the Lord has chosen this icon to explain the love that He has for His people.”
Drawing attention to how Paul uses the image of marriage to explain the mystery of Christ, the Pope emphasized that “Christ is married, Christ was married, He married the Church, His people,” and that just “as the Father had married the People of Israel, Christ married His people.”
“This is the love story, this is the history of the masterpiece of Creation – and before this path of love, this icon, casuistry falls and becomes sorrowful.”
When this love fails, observed the pontiff, “(we must) accompany those people who have had this failure” and “walk with them” rather than condemning or practicing “casuistry on their situation.”
Reflecting on how the Gospel teaches us about “this plan of love, this journey of love in Christian marriage,” the Pope highlighted that this “masterpiece” has “never been taken away. Not even original sin has destroyed it.”
When we think about this, he continued, we “see how beautiful love is, how beautiful marriage is, how beautiful the family is, how beautiful this journey is, and how much love we too (must have), how close we must be to our brothers and sisters who in life have had the misfortune of a failure in love.”
Concluding his homily, Pope Francis returned to Saint Paul, emphasizing the beauty of “the love Christ has for His bride, the Church,” stating that “Here too, we must be careful that love should not fail.”
“(It is dangerous) to speak about a bachelor-Christ,” he said, “Christ married the Church. You can’t understand Christ without the Church, and you can’t understand the Church without Christ.”
Highlighting how this is “the great mystery of the masterpiece of Creation,” the Pope prayed that the Lord “give all of us the grace to understand it and also the grace to never fall into these casuistic attitudes of the Pharisees, of the teachers of the law.”
In his daily homily Pope Francis reflected on the beauty of marriage, emphasizing that when it fails, we should not condemn the couple, but accompany them on a path of healing in the Church.
Pope, Marriage, Divorce, Church Teaching on Marriage