Isn’t it amazing when a relationship breaks down, the terrible insults begin to fly. What once seemed like such a strong bond eventually ends up with seemingly two people fighting like opposing enemies. It is common and is very sad. The Anger is usually just tremendous pain looking for an escape. Where two become seemingly bonded in love, sometimes two can be bound in discord – or to be more accurate, bound by their pain.
The issue of marriage and divorce is central in today’s gospel story, and Jesus goes to the real heart of the matter..the heart itself. It is through the hardness of heart that made separation so easy, not so much the rules and regulations regarding divorce and remarriage. It is still as much of a problem today as it was then – but with the recent growth in understanding psychology and relationship difficulties, there seems to be a greater awareness on some of the issues of a hardened heart.
When Jesus points to the reality of two people ‘becoming one flesh’ he is revealing the very reality that anyone who has been in a serious relationship can attest to. A bond that is very powerful, a bond that becomes very deep and a bond that is not simple to walk away from. It is defining the nature of the heart, the nature of relationships and the nature of union.
Therapists today are inundated with those suffering in their relationships and struggling in their ability to become ‘one flesh.’ It seems while the journey to union and love is often sought, it is also filled with the struggles of old wounds and subconscious pains, resurfacing and causing havoc in relationships. No-one and no couple is free from this journey of self discovery. We often find our true selves in the mirroring of another. A lot of these deep wounds can stem from troubles in childhood.
It is interesting that in today’s gospel story, after the question on divorce and remarriage is posed, Jesus goes on to rebuke the disciples for turning away the children who come to be embraced by Jesus. “Let the children come, do not prevent them.” Here Jesus reveals the importance of the child’s journey, the importance of how much love a young child needs and how important this can be to all relationships. – It is by no accident that these two rather different stories are juxtaposed in today’s gospel reading.
When the child is rejected, abused, abandoned and neglected, difficulties to bond will manifest in later relationships. These issues are often triggered in the journey to communion with another soul. Where for many, the heart was once open like a child, it has become hardened, not out of choice, but out of protection. Jesus recognizes this, and is affirming the real difficulties that the loving open heart faces on its journey to union. It always begins with the innocence of the child and the difficulties when that innocence is lost. For all of us, we need to be acutely aware of our own difficulties that were often beyond our control and our need for forgiveness with our own families, ourselves and those who we have difficulty with in our lives. We didn’t choose our families, we don’t often choose who we come in contact with at work and at school, but we can choose to forgive and keep striving to form stronger bonds in love and not in discord.
Reflection provided by Danny O’Regan, Director of Campus Ministry (Chaminade University)