Styles are changing almost as fast as we can change the channel on the television. Brand names, cellular phones, computers. Here today and gone tomorrow. “A people in search of the perfect product.”
Just like the folks who were following Jesus—they were looking for happiness outside of themselves—someone who had all the right answers—a person who would not disappoint them. The moment that Jesus did not meet their expectations, they left Him to look for another. The same attitude is prevalent in folks who are dissatisfied with their parish, the Catholic Church, Christianity. Just remember, wherever we go, there we are. The things that most disturb us are not out there; they are usually inside of us. A human tendency is to project our issues onto someone else—something else or to pick on an institution. When we project, we don’t have to look at ourselves. “Do you also want to leave?” Same as asking, “Are you also dissatisfied?” Wonder how the Apostles felt when Jesus looked them straight in the eyes and asked the personal question. He must have seen the doubt in their faces. Everybody was leaving. Our Lord had identified Himself as the Bread of Life—the remedy for death. As a result, a large number thought Him to be blaspheming. Therefore, just to clear the air He asked His intimate friends, “Do you also want to leave?” Good to ask the hard questions. Otherwise we are tempted to take each other for granted, especially in a family.
There’s no glue that holds a family together. Common knowledge: the number of divorces continues to rise. A wedding, which is where the majority of couples place emphasis, has no magic. A wedding lasts about one hour or less. A marriage is suppose to last until one of the spouses dies—a natural death of course—murder is not allowed. The Ephesians must have been acting like us because St. Paul gives explicit instructions on the relationship of a husband and wife. In the old law, men were everything; women were nothing. In the list of priorities first came the sons, the horse, the dog, at the end of the list was the wife. And she was treated accordingly—like a possession. Girls were usually married off at 15-16 to a man twice or three times her age. Since the marriage was arrange, the spouses had never met. That’s the reason that she wore a veil over her face and that her brother was standing next to the groom with a little dagger on his ribs, in case he would think to run when he saw her face.
If a woman could not cook—a husband could dismiss her with an act of divorce. And for other similar reasons too many to mention. In other words, double standards existed for men and women. St. Paul wrote the theology of Christ when he said, “Husbands love your wives. Wives be subordinate to your husbands in everything.” Give and take—a partnership is what is described. The marriages that have survived can give testimony that constant negotiation has to happen—every day. Forgiveness is the main ingredient—like flour is to a cake. Seems like the older some folks get, the more they have to forgive each other. Imagine that every husband is supposed to act like Christ and every wife is suppose to be like the Church. We know that Christ loves His Church and we know that the Church is nothing without Christ. How two people can pledge their lives to each other without knowing what the future holds is a mystery we can never explain; but a mystery that is possible. The family is most precious in God’s eyes, naturally under constant attack. When trouble comes we can get discouraged, get nervous, have doubts—just like the Apostles who thought that their whole world was coming apart.
We not called to be super human, or to endure an impossible situation or to put up with any kind of abuse. We are called to be family. Jesus gives us the grace to continue to say, “Yes” to our vocation.