Pope Francis: Lasting marriage needs self-gift and Christ's grace

By Hannah Brockhaus

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Pope Francis and a newly married couple Jan. 20, 2016. Credit: Daniel Ibanez/EWTN.

A married couple striving to faithfully live out their life-long commitment to each other, need both God’s grace and love that is anchored in self-gift, Pope Francis said Sunday.

"What allows married couples to remain united in marriage is a love of mutual self-giving sustained by the grace of Christ," the pope said Oct. 7.

"If, on the other hand, individual interest and satisfaction prevail in the spouses, then their union cannot endure."

He explained that if divorce or separation should happen, however, the Church does not condemn, but "on the contrary, faced with so many painful marital failures, she feels called to live her presence of love, of charity, of mercy, to bring back the wounded and lost hearts to God."

The same mercy God shows to all his people when they fail through sin, "teaches us that wounded love can be healed by God through mercy and forgiveness," Francis stated.

In his meditation before the Sunday Angelus, Pope Francis reflected on the day's Gospel, when Jesus defends the permanency of marriage in the face of questioning by the Pharisees. Jesus explained that Moses allowed divorce, because of "the hardness of your hearts," but that this does not correspond "to the original intention of the Creator."

Jesus invokes a passage from the Book of Genesis, where it says, "God made them male and female. For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh."

The pope noted Jesus' words that “what God has joined together, no human being must separate."

"This teaching of Jesus is very clear and defends the dignity of marriage, as a union of love that entails fidelity," he said. In this Gospel passage, Jesus confirms God's plan for marriage, not allowing for any exceptions to the permanent commitment of marriage.

"He does this to confirm the plan of God, in which the strength and beauty of human relationships stand out,” he said.

“The Church, on the one hand does not tire of confirming the beauty of the family as given to us by Scripture and Tradition; at the same time, she strives to make his maternal closeness felt concretely to those who live the experience of broken relationships or carry on in a painful and tiring way.”

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