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The sole comfort. Reflection for marriages: Lk 16, 19-31

GOSPEL

You received blessings, and Lazarus faced hardships: now he finds solace here, while you endure torment.
Reading from the Gospel according to Luke. Lk 16, 19-31

Jesus said to the Pharisees:
“There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen
and dined sumptuously each day.
And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores,
who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps
that fell from the rich man’s table.
Dogs even used to come and lick his sores.
When the poor man died,
he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham.
The rich man also died and was buried,
and from the netherworld, where he was in torment,
he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off
and Lazarus at his side.
And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me.
Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue,
for I am suffering torment in these flames.’
Abraham replied, ‘My child,
remember that you received what was good during your lifetime
while Lazarus likewise received what was bad;
but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented.
Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established
to prevent anyone from crossing
who might wish to go from our side to yours
or from your side to ours.’
He said, ‘Then I beg you, father, send him
to my father’s house,
for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them,
lest they too come to this place of torment.’
But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets.
Let them listen to them.’
He said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham,
but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
Then Abraham said,
‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets,
neither will they be persuaded
if someone should rise from the dead.'”

The Gospel of the Lord

The sole comfort.

Who finds comfort? The beatitudes reveal, those who grieve. There exist two kinds of grief. The first is someone who weeps for having lost or failed to attain a worldly good. But suppose that individual finds or achieves it. Will they find solace? No. They will possess what they dearly wished for, yet another form of suffering emerges: The fear of its loss continues to leave them without comfort. Consider an example from Saint Augustine: Picture a father mourning the loss of a son. Then, another child is born to him. Does he find consolation? No. He experiences the joy of the new child, but concurrently, the fear of losing this one just as he lost the first surfaces. Hence, true consolation arrives only when one yearns for something that, once acquired, will never be lost again. This is the sole form of true comfort, and only God can provide such.

Applied to the context of marriage:

Albert: Martha, we yearn for a bond between us that seems elusive, and at times, this leads to despair. Similarly, in our relationship with the Lord, it feels like we cannot achieve what we observe others experiencing with Him, and this occasionally brings us to tears.

Martha: Indeed, Albert. This anguish over a desire for completeness that God has instilled in us and which we struggle to fulfil is natural. Yet, this anguish is healthy as long as we place our trust in God and believe that He will fulfil it one day. It is a slow and steady journey, but today, the Lord gives me comfort in the knowledge that it will indeed happen one day. Eventually, if we stay true to His will, He will not let us down.

Albert: He never fails us. It’s true, the difference between our past experiences and our current life is vast. Another chasm lies ahead, but having crossed one with God’s help, we will navigate through what remains with His assistance.

Mother,
We will find comfort for eternal life. Blessed be God who promises us this.

Can you? Reflection for marriages: Matthew 20, 17-28

GOSPEL

He will be condemned to death.

Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew. Mt 20,17-28

As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem,
he took the Twelve disciples aside by themselves,
and said to them on the way,
“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem,
and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests
and the scribes,
and they will condemn him to death,
and hand him over to the Gentiles
to be mocked and scourged and crucified,
and he will be raised on the third day.”

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons
and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something.
He said to her, “What do you wish?”
She answered him,
“Command that these two sons of mine sit,
one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.”
Jesus said in reply,
“You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?”
They said to him, “We can.”
He replied,
“My chalice you will indeed drink,
but to sit at my right and at my left,
this is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
When the ten heard this,
they became indignant at the two brothers.
But Jesus summoned them and said,
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them,
and the great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.
Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve
and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

The Gospel of the Lord

Can you?

It is Jesus who says that they will hand Him over to the gentiles to mock Him. And after all this, Jesus asks: Can you drink the cup that I am to drink? They said yes. I say No! I cannot. I have tried hundreds of times, thousands… but I cannot stand people speaking ill of me, especially my loved ones. I immediately respond by defending myself, justifying myself, or even taking revenge with similar or even worse insults than those received.

So, today I say to the Lord: Lord, I cannot. Can you do it for me? If so, I am willing to accept all the humiliations that come my way. But only with you. Meanwhile, Your grace is enough for me.

Applied to the context of marriage:

James: Lord, when it seems that I am getting over it and I am able to accept the criticisms or corrections from my wife, which I consider unfair, when I already believe that I am able to not get angry and continue loving her in those situations, I end up defending myself and fall again. I distance myself from her again and respond in kind. It’s as if I see her sin in her and judge her for pride or vanity or who knows what. I turn once more to Your Mercy, Lord.

Anne: Lord, I committed to accompany you on the cross this Lent. I believe I am renouncing many times, but I see that I end up falling. My husband says that everything bothers me, but I think it is he who has no delicacy at all. Anyway, Lord, here I am in the battle of my heart. Purify it, Lord. Above all, we know that your mercy is like those embers where our tears disappear as soon as they come close to you.

Mother,
Praised be the Merciful Lord.

They talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk. Reflection for marriages: Matthew 23, 1-12

GOSPEL

They talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk.
Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew. (Mt 23, 1-12)

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying,
“The scribes and the Pharisees
have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.
Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you,
but do not follow their example.
For they preach but they do not practice.
They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry
and lay them on people’s shoulders,
but they will not lift a finger to move them.
All their works are performed to be seen.
They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.
They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues,
greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’
As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’
You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.
Call no one on earth your father;
you have but one Father in heaven.
Do not be called ‘Master’;
you have but one master, the Christ.
The greatest among you must be your servant.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;
but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

The Gospel of the Lord

Motivation, order, perseverance, and joy.

Often, we mirror the scribes and Pharisees by dictating to our spouse their duties. Instead, we should apply these expectations to ourselves and treat our spouse with tenderness, offering encouragement and hope. Indeed, we shoulder burdens too great for us. At times, we assume the role of an all-knowing individual who freely imparts advice. However, the Lord teaches that this isn’t the correct approach. We should interact as siblings, as God’s little children, sharing joy and excitement.

Applied to the context of marriage:

Richard: Julia, it’s evident that we frequently fail to do as we should, both of us. This stems from a lack of determination, despite our mutual desire to follow Christ. We need to keep educating and fortifying our will. I’ve learned that the essentials for strengthening our resolve include motivation, order, persistence, and a blend of joy and enthusiasm. With this in mind, what strategies do you think we could employ to support each other?

Julia: As for motivation, I think love is the most powerful driver. Understanding what brings us closer to each other and to God, I feel that should provide ample motivation.

Richard: Okay. Let’s proceed to deepen our understanding of genuine love. Concerning order, I propose that when we commit to activities that bolster our will during our spiritual purification, we should establish a timetable and make it known that we are participating. This boils down to setting priorities, and it should be our primary focus.

Julia: Indeed, by doing so, we join forces in every endeavour. To enhance persistence, we must inspire each other to keep going. There’s much on the line. We shouldn’t be discouraged by the minor challenges that arise daily.

Richard: Absolutely, there’s much on the line. Joy and enthusiasm can only be attained by collectively turning our gaze towards the Lord and His grace, which He offers to us to make our transformation a reality. Like Mary, may our spirits find joy in God.

Julia: Embarking on this journey with you fills me with joy.

Richard: Yes, facing it together definitely makes it more manageable.

Mother,
Your presence is essential for our spirits to find joy in God alongside you. Thank you, blessed Mother.

Awe-Inspiring Marriage. Reflection for marriages Mark 9, 2-10

GOSPEL
This is my Son, the beloved.
Reading from the holy Gospel according to Saint Mark 9, 2-10
Jesus took Peter, James, and John
and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them,
and his clothes became dazzling white,
such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.
Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here!
Let us make three tents:
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.
Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; from the cloud came a voice,
“This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”
Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone who but Jesus alone with them.
As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone,
except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
So they kept the matter to themselves,
questioning what rising from the dead meant.
The Gospel of the Lord.
Awe-Inspiring Marriage.
The things of God awe us to unimaginable limits. God is very great, and we are very small. Therefore, living life as if God did not exist is to remain in a very shabby aspect of life. Missing out on the things of God means missing out on everything that really matters. Living a marriage based on the things of this world is lackluster. Living a marriage facing God is awe-inspiring, dazzling… contemplate it, and you will be radiant.
Applied to Married Life:
Javier: Darling, tonight, instead of going out for dinner as we had planned, I would like us to stay at home and watch together how the gifts of the Holy Spirit influence our Sacrament. Does that sound good to you?
Laura: Well, I was really looking forward to the dinner, but the topic seems super interesting.
(As night falls)
Javier: If you agree, let’s go over each gift and take turns saying how it influences our marriage. Alright? I’ll start with the gift of understanding. This gift allows us to deepen our faith and understand God and His ways. And certainly, the Sacrament is very much His. I would love to continue discovering more about this mystery with you.
Laura: And me. The second one is the gift of Wisdom. To savor the things of God and especially the conjugal charity that unites us. For example, today, we have given up a delicious dinner, but here we are together savoring the things of God between us.
Javier: Very well. I like that example. Another gift is the gift of counsel. How important it is to seek God’s will when we try to advise each other. It’s important that we advise each other not from the indignation of “you’re not doing things as I told you,” but from God’s counsel.
Laura: I love it. Gift of Fortitude. It allows us to be perseverant in our commitments in the face of difficult situations. For this, it is essential that we support each other greatly and help each other to be faithful, for example, to daily conjugal prayer or to the commitments we have in our personal purification journey. In a way, we have to put our gift of fortitude at the service of the other’s weakness and tendency towards comfort or conformity.
Javier: Totally agree. The gift of Knowledge: Well, it’s easy because it’s what we are doing right now. Looking to God, His presence in everything that happens. Helping us interpret things from His salvation Plan.
Laura: Piety. Very important. Knowing ourselves as children of God and always treating each other as children of God. If we only carry this forward, we’ll do great.
Javier: Fear of God: Being aware of the consequences it would have for our marriage to push God away, to forget the sacramental grace, as if He is not the one who does everything between us. That would be marital suicide.
Laura: Phew, that sounds harsh, but it’s true. It’s killing the love of communion. Can we write all this on a board and put it in our room? I would like not to forget it and review it from time to time. These are the gifts we have received, and we have to make use of them.
Mother,
Spouse of the Holy Spirit, pray for us.

Perfect imperfects. Reflection for marriages Matthew 5, 43-48

GOSPEL
Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Reading from the holy Gospel according to Saint Matthew 5, 43-48
Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies,
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers and sisters only, what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
The Word of the Lord.
Perfect imperfects.
One is perfect when they love perfectly, not when they have achieved all virtues. And love is perfect when it loves everyone in all circumstances.
The first characteristic of the perfect one is that they don’t go around being “perfect” in life, but see everyone else as much more perfect. The second is that they are not focused on growing in their own perfection, but on God and the needs of their spouse. The third is that they know themselves as children of God, the giver of all and the doer of all. The only perfect one.
Applied to married life:
Ramón: Marta, I admire how much you love the Lord and how much you want to love me.
Marta: Ramón, I admire your faithfulness and perseverance in the love of God and love for me.
The Lord: You are not far from the kingdom of God.
Mother,
Lead us to Him. Thank you, Mother.