Today we honour the memory of a modern saint: Maximilian Kolbe, a Franciscan priest who was arrested by the Nazis in 1941 and sent to Auschwitz. Following the escape of a prisoner the Nazis retaliated by randomly selecting ten men to starve to death. Fr. Kolbe offered to take the place of a married man who had a family. And because they were taking so long to die, Fr. Kolbe and three other men were injected with carbolic acid. Fr. Maximilian Kolbe was canonised in 1982.
The Pharisees ask Our Lord whether divorce is ever permissible. Our Lord reminds them that God intends marriage to be not only permanent but transformative as well. The goal of marriage is that a man and a woman leave their individuality aside and come together to create a whole new unity: a family.
The disciples suggest that since marriage is so hard then maybe it would be better not to marry at all. We all discover, sooner or later, that any state of life is challenging. Circumstances change, and we scramble to adjust. In one way or another we all fail to live up to God’s ideal. We all fail God; we fail our spouse or our religious community from time to time. But this doesn’t mean we chose the wrong vocation. It simply means that we have momentarily forgotten just how much we need to depend on God’s abundant grace. Fidelity in marriage or singleness of purpose as a religious is only possible because God is faithful: faithful to guide us, faithful to sustain us, faithful to forgive us.
Remember the refrain for today’s Psalm: “Great is his love, love without end.” God expresses his love and mercy in so many different ways at many different moments, simply because he is always faithful. His enduring love and mercy is the very thing we need in order to be faithful ourselves.
And so today is a good day to consider our vocation; to thank God for the call he has given us, and to thank him for being faithful to us as we strive to live out that call.