For best results follow the Maker’s instructions - 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

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Home > Archbishop > Homilies > For best results follow the Maker’s instructions - 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

As a young priest I remember one day passing a church which had a notice board in front of it. On the notice board was the picture of an open book and then under the image were the words, “For best results follow the Maker’s instructions”. The message grabbed my attention. I have not forgotten it.

The open book, of course, was the bible and the message was clear: for the best results for our lives we should follow what God teaches us about human life.

I am sure you have brought many items which have a small print booklet which explains how the item works and gives a number of instructions about how to best look after the item. You know that the advice is good and reliable and that it is sensible to follow these instructions. The manufacturer is the one who best knows the product. The manufacturer wants to ensure that we do not do things that will inhibit the effectiveness of the product. So if we are sensible we will follow the maker’s instructions.

Today I want to speak about marriage. We are all aware that it is a hot topic in our society. There has been a strong and consistent campaign by some to change the definition of marriage. The current thrust is based on the idea of granting same sex people the right to have their relationship recognised as marriage. For many it seems a reasonable argument and many have accepted that there should be a change in the definition of marriage.

However, we need to pause and look more closely at the issue. This is what the Catholic bishops of Australia have done in producing a booklet entitled, “Don’t Mess with Marriage”. I encourage you to take a copy home and read it.

Let us look at what is God’s plan for marriage and family. To do this we go back to the Book of Genesis which describes the work of creation.

The high point of God’s wonderful creative work was the creation of human beings. The Book of Genesis says “male and female he created them”. Man and woman were created equal but different. Indeed male and female are complementary to each other. We know from our everyday experience that the man and the woman contribute to each other. Men need the gifts of woman, and women need the gifts of man. Each contributes to the other. This is the wisdom and intention of the Creator.

Then the Book of Genesis says, “This is why a man leaves his father and mother and joins himself to his wife and they become one”. They become one. Jesus in his teaching on marriage emphasises this when he says that they are no longer two but one, and comments that what God has joined man must not divide.  This is a profoundly sacred union ordained by God as the way human life is to be lived.

Something quite extraordinary happens when a man and a woman marry. There is a profound union that results so that they can no longer consider themselves separate from one another. This is far more than a friendship, or a partnership, or some legal commitment, or even a loving union. God has ordained that a man and a woman who are made to complement one another become one. There is a union so deep that it is beyond just the two individuals involved. God, in his wisdom, has created humanity in such a way that a man and a woman are literally changed by becoming married. And this is graced in a special way by the Sacrament of Marriage.

This wonderful plan of God for human life provides a path for human happiness, but more importantly it creates a platform, an environment, for the creative act of the love of a man and woman. From their love given physical expression a new human being is created. This new human being needs the complementary contribution of both the man and the woman. A child is the result of their creative potential. The new life is the fruit of the man and the woman. Parents know that their child carried something of each of them. The child knows that he or she is the fruit of this singular and unique union. They know their identity. Indeed they inherit a whole heritage of the generations before. They can trace their origins back in time. They have the security of their clear sense of identity.

It is the security of knowing that they are the fruit of a self-giving love of their father and mother that reassures them that they are loved and cherished by their parents. They can grow up with a confidence and assurance of who they are. It is the love and stability that lays the foundation for their own human flourishing.

This is the plan of God. This is what God had in mind when he created human beings. As the Book of Genesis says, “And it was very good”.

Now we all know that this beautiful plan of God is not realised perfectly. Human beings are marred by sin. We all fail. We all fall short. Marriages break down. Children are born out of wedlock. Love fades.

That is why God sent his only Son. He came to redeem human life. He came to help us find the way through the vicissitudes of life. We all know times of darkness, suffering, fear, anxiety. We all know sin, both our own and the ways in which we are sinned against. God the Son became one of us to redeem human love. He came not to judge but to save.

In the Gospel today Jesus rebukes his disciples who were overwhelmed by the fear of drowning and says to them, “Why are you so frightened? How is it that you have no faith”. Jesus is with us to assist us in the struggles of life.
Yes, we all know that life does not live up to what it was meant to be. However, this should not prevent us from seeing the plan and purpose of God the Creator. This should not prevent us from trusting that God is there to assist us on our life’s journey.

My brothers and sisters, I believe we are at a crucial moment in the history of our society. We are being asked to abandon the plan of God for marriage and family. This would be a disastrous step to take. It will have vast implications. We must say clearly, boldly and with love, do not change the meaning of marriage. Do not abandon the wise plan of God for human life.

For best results follow the Maker’s instructions.


Archbishop Julian Porteous
Saturday, 20 June 2015