Derek Webb has a song about marriage called, "The Vow." The chorus goes:
Oh, I can't see the day after tomorrow
I don't know the future, even still
I don't promise cause I know I'll always love you
I make my vow to guarantee I will
I love those words because they capture some of the mystery and power of marriage. We should be intimidated by marriage - it should make us a little nervous. Marriage is a promise that people, on their own, can't keep - so it's very good news that the love a married couple, of a family, flows from the love of God. It is He who gives us the strength to keep our promises.
"It is not good for the man to be alone." God speaks those words at the very beginning of humanity and they are still true today. Because we are made by a God who is a relationship - the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - we are always longing for relationship. It's in the very fabric of our being.
God fulfilled that longing in Adam's heart by making him the perfect partner in Eve. In a very real way, they were made for each other. And so they're relationship is built on an unbreakable commitment. In marriage, Adam and Eve, man and woman, become one flesh.
That explains Jesus' response to the Pharisees in today's gospel. They are trying to trip him up by asking about divorce. They know that Moses permitted divorce; but Jesus calls them to go back before Moses, before everything in fact. He goes back to the beginning when God created man and woman for each other and joined them together in a permanent relationship.
Moses may have allowed divorce because of the "hardness of their hearts," but that was not God's plan. It was a concession to the weakness of humanity. God designed marriage to be an image of his covenant to us - He will love us forever no matter what. That is why Jesus and the Church that He founded takes marriage so seriously.
We all know, however, that we are not perfect - and neither are our marriages. Divorce exists - and Jesus' words here don't mean that people who are divorced should give up on their faith. There are so many misunderstandings about this out there. If you are not sure of your situation in the Church because of being divorced or being remarried after a divorce, please come talk to me. The Lord desires you!
Marriage may be in a rough state in our time, but that doesn't mean we should give up on it. Marriage matters because it comes from God - it's part of His plan for bringing life into the world, for sanctifying those two people, and for building up his kingdom.
God works through marriages. He speaks through the sacrifices that spouses make for each other. He shows the world His love through the love of families.
Couples can only live up to this great calling, however, with His help. Don't try to do it on your own. We all need God's grace to fulfill our vocations. If a priest doesn't pray, doesn't depend on God for everything, He is going to be a miserable failure. Marriages and families need God's grace too.
With his help, we can love each other the same way that He loves us.