One of the greatest tragedies of the last few decades has been a lack of commitment to the vocations of priesthood and marriage. The scandals in the priesthood and the increase in the divorce rate indicate the sad statistics and the terrible consequences of self – centeredness in the Western world. Many people seem to have lost sight of the concept of commitment to their spouse or to the priesthood; and many cast commitment aside. In effect, they say: “No offense, but I just don’t want to live my life with you anymore.” Or “I don’t want the obligations of priesthood anymore.”

Today Jesus calls out to us from the Sacred Scripture, and the Church calls out to us from the constant moral and traditional teachings of the Pope and bishops of the world, and our conscience calls us from its depths: we must take our vocation – and our commitment to life – more seriously!

55 million abortions are enough! A divorce rate of 50% is a disgrace!
The disintegration of the family needs to be repaired!

Our readings today deal specifically with the topic of marriage, family life, and children. At a time when the word “commitment” seems difficult and unpopular, the Gospel calls us to see life and love as God sees it. For the last 30 years or so, there seem to be many unsettled questions about marriage, the role of women, the value of children, the worth and reality of marriage – as well as the value and relevance of priesthood and Church have been called into question!

Our society has accepted alternatives to the sacrament of marriage which has been established by God Himself. The laws of God regarding marriage and family are attacked from all sides. By the communication media, by the couples themselves, and by supporting parents and friends.

In many instances, marriage today is one in which commitments are made on a short-term basis, and concern for self rather than the other is the norm. How can I be happy? How can I be satisfied? I want a pre-nuptial agreement so that I can get out of any situation which has the potential to become painful, too demanding, or too routine!”

At a time when commitment seems difficult and meaningless, the Gospel calls us to see the commitment of marriage or priesthood as He intends it to be – with no limits or no conditions! We may be uneasy with the statements Jesus makes in the Gospel today, but they are His statements. They are His teachings and the teachings of the Church.

You can shop around and find churches that do not teach what Jesus teaches about the topics of marriage, divorce, and abortion, but they have not remained faithful to the truth nor to the Founder – Jesus!

 Jesus calls us to a commitment in marriage that knows no limits or conditions! In the plan of God, marriage and priesthood demand a commitment – a commitment without limits or conditions!

Contrary to what society says, contrary to what you might have been taught at some point along the line, contrary to what you might personally believe, the marriage union spoken of in the Book of Genesis today and reaffirmed by Jesus in the Gospel today is so complete that to break that union does violence to both the individuals and to God.

Marriage is a vocation and a sacrament. The commitment that a couple makes to each other and to God on the day of their marriage and the commitment that a priest makes on the day of ordination binds us into a sacred contract established by God Himself: – a contract which cannot be broken!

In his eloquent letter to the people of Corinth, St. Paul says, “If I have Faith in all of its fullness to even move mountains, but have no love, then I am nothing at all”. If self-sacrificing love for one another is present in a marriage, the marriage will work. If self-sacrificing love is part of a priest’s life, the priest will flourish, and seminaries will be full. But that love must be the same self–sacrificing love that brought Jesus to the cross: for it is the Cross that teaches the lesson of commitment and love. It is the Cross that teaches how far we must go in our efforts to love our spouse and our family; in the case of a priest our commitment to the Church and the people to whom we have been sent to serve.

It is the cross that teaches us that divorce or abandoning the priesthood is not in the realm of possibility – Jesus did not divorce Himself from the Cross, He embraced it!

St. Paul gives us the key to a long-lasting marriage and to a faithful, happy priesthood – being patient, being kind, being ready to forgive, trusting, hoping, and enduring together. When couples’ priests cannot or will not embrace these qualities, marriages fail, and priesthood fails. The commitment to marriage or to priesthood must be 100% – 100% of the time. There must be a willingness to communicate with each other and with God. There must be a decision to love no matter what happens and finally, there must be total reliance on Christ.

This weekend, Jesus reminds all of us to include Him in our marriages and priesthood. In striving to make Him present, we fulfill our vocation to married life to priesthood, to and single life. May God grant all of us the grace and wisdom to live out our commitments to marriage and to priesthood until in the words of St. Thomas Moore: “We all meet merrily in God’s Kingdom