The history of marriage is a minefield to explore and one must be aware of the context in which we talk and the ongoing desire of people to marry even in the turbulent times called the 21st Century.
Grand traditions surround marriage in different cultures. Legal prescriptions surround the entering and the leaving of the state of marriage; celebrations take various forms and some form of dowry is expected; again, be mindful and respectful of the culture.
The readings today begin the era in which the concept and the truth of the sacramentality of marriage begins. Whatever the reality of coming together and leaving, Jesus draws us back to the ideal of marriage in the context of his time and with the truth that the Pharisees knew the book of Genesis. They deliberately try to trap him; he then not only repeats the original ideal, but challenges the Pharisees by reminding them that both parties can commit adultery, not just their interpretation that only the woman could do so. So, in a sense, in this important and wonderful world of marriage, Jesus repeats the ideal and strengthens the responsibility of both parties.
It is 2000 years since Jesus so taught; truth that eventually for the Catholic Church evolved into the doctrine of the Sacrament of Marriage.
The joy of love experienced by families is also the joy of the Church (Amoris Laetitia, para.1). The words go on to say, “As the Synod Fathers noted, for all the many signs of crisis for the institution of marriage, the desire to marry and form a family remains vibrant”.
The document is rich in reflection and proclamation. The exposition in Chapter Four of the famed Hymn to Love by St Paul is given a right papal working and is a must for all newly married, long-time married, those preparing for marriage and indeed for those seeking to rebuild despite whatever has happened; its proclamation is good news for all people.
Pope Francis calls us again to make the journey as families to proclaim the truth, to encourage others by the joy we experience, to assist those struggling by sitting with them and recalling our struggles; but above all, to keep walking together. “What we have been promised is greater than what we can imagine.” (Amoris Laetitia para. 325).