As lay associates, sisters and brothers of the Ireland England Province of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus & Mary, we are priviliged to be able to offer you some thoughts and reflections on our Sunday readings.  Many of our lay associates, sisters and brothers have contributed to putting together for the first time, homilies which cover every Sunday of the Liturgical year.  We hope that you will find this service to be of assistance to you in your ministry or just as an opportunity for you to reflect and to pray on the various themes that these reading have to offer us.

preach gospel always


12. Homilies October      Each Monday, we will try to post the homily for the following w/e on this Homepage.  (See previous homilies below)  


Coincidentally the time of writing this homily coincides with the much talked about third marriage of the twice divorced Boris Johnson, prime minister of the UK, to the present Mrs. Johnson, Carrie Symons. Some of the headlines in the UK, read “How did Boris Johnson marry in catholic Westminster Cathedral after divorce?” The Express “Catholics question why Boris Johnson was able to marry in church” The Guardian “Why Boris’s first two marriages ‘didn’t count’? The mail. “What are the wedding rules in England after Boris Johnson got married in secret?” The Mirror. Of course any journalist worth their salt would with a little research and less effort be able to easily find the answer to these attention grabbing headlines. Some things never change as in them we can see echoes of the Pharisees trying to catch Jesus out. Fortunately, todays newspapers will become tomorrow’s recycling!

In the English language one word can have many meanings, take for example the word pot, I can be something you boil your spuds in, or something you plant your geraniums in, it can be the pile on money in the middle of the poker table your trying to win with two pair, or something you do if you are lucky enough to put the ball into the pocket of a snooker table. It can be the stuff that some people want made legal to smoke, it is the place where the Shannon rises, or the vessel filled with gold at the end of the rainbow. I think I have made my point. It is no different with the word “marriage”. It is the same word but it has different meanings in different times, cultures and places. The understanding Jesus has of marriage is very different from the Pharisees idea of marriage and both differ from our cultures understanding of marriage today. The definition of marriage our culture uses today in not the definition of marriage Jesus is operating form. Culture and scripture may use the same word, but the meaning of the word is quite different. They are completely different ideas, as we can see in our reading today.

We cannot underplay the importance in which Jesus held marriage. It was the setting for his first miracle. He uses marriage to describe the Kingdom of God in his parables, he referred to himself as the bridegroom and the church as his bride, and heaven he sees as a wonderful wedding banquet on more than one occasion. The importance with which He holds marriage is quite different from the culture of His day where divorced for a man was easy and common place but for a woman nigh on impossible. In our Gospel today, from St. Mark, we have Jesus’ clear teaching on what he means by the word marriage, and everyone is upset with him, and the controversy continues to the present day in many ways.

The Pharisees approach Jesus and ask, “Is it against the law for a man to divorce his wife?” They were testing him. Jesus said in reply, “What did Moses command you?” The Pharisees reply, “Moses allowed us to draw up a writ of dismissal and so to divorce.” Jesus tells them, “It was because you were so unteachable that he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. This is why a man must leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two become one body. They are no longer two but one body. Therefore, what God has joined, man must not divide.” The Pharisees are not happy with this answer. Even the disciples are not happy. In the house the disciples again questioned Jesus about this.  Jesus makes it very clear what he thinks, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery
against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” In St. Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus clarifies this statement with the requirement, “…unless the marriage is unlawful”, indicating that marriage vows can at times be defective as in the case of a couple who shouldn’t have gotten married in the first place. This is why the Catholic Church has an annulment ministry. 

We all know someone who is divorced and remarried. We all know someone who is in a same sex marriage or committed relationship. We all know people who feel called to live out their discipleship as a single person, who do not feel called to marry or to enter religious life. 

There are times as a priest when I think marriage is a wonderful thing especially when you see two people devoted to each other after many years of marriage and more in love then they were on their wedding day. Or seeing the total trust and hope a couple have on their wedding day as they come before God and make their solemn vow. Then there are times when I wish the council of Verona (1184) had not made marriage one of the sacraments. I sometimes wish the church had nothing to do with marriage, nor devoted so much of its law to it.  We have created a situation where Boris, twice divorced can be married in Westminster Cathedral, while others feel excluded from the church door because they suffered in and throughout the pain of a marriage breakdown. The legalities of the church have made this possible. Don’t get me wrong, I hold nothing against Boris, good for him, having his third marriage in church, the best of luck to him and his new wife. But what of the suffering of others left outside the door feeling excluded?

Yes, marriage breakdown is a reality, sometimes a necessary one.  Who should stay in an abusive relationship if they are capable and lucky enough to escape the horror of it?Marriage is for life the church teaches, this must mean the it is something that gives life, is life giving, fulfilling life, building up life and completing it, not something the degrades and diminishes and sucks the life out of a person, physically or emotionally or both, such as abusive relationships do.

Sadly, we all know someone who has been through the heartbreak of a relationship breakdown and they need our love, support and encouragement, not our recrimination or legalistic stance that will never see the Pharisees forgotten. Yes, there are times too, when I think, if I ran the church, marriage would be a civil institution, supported by the church yes, encouraged and helped but not sacramentalised. And if this were to be too much, I would at least, if I had my way, make it harder to get married, practically anyone can get married even, once they have reached their 16th birthday. When a couple decide to get married basically that is it. Ask any parent, sibling, priest or good friend who has advised someone against marrying their chosen heartthrob. It is like standing in between two express trains heading full speed towards each other on the same track, arms outstretched wide, in a futile and feeble effort to stop the head on collision. It does not have a good outcome for anyone. But I don’t run the church, I am not the one in charge. Jesus is, He is the head and we must take our lead form him.

Jesus never excludes or separates anyone, he loves them all. We take our lead from Him. Let’s love them all. Why should anyone be ostracized or alienate, love them all, welcome them all! Everyone is welcome regardless of how our lives have turned out, because Jesus loves us all and calls us all to high level of discipleship, in whatever manner of life he has called us to. We are all called to a conversion of heart and we all fall short, my friends, we all do. Open our eyes, even priests, bishops and cardinals fail miserably at times and need to be challenged by the Gospel as well. All of us need to hear what Jesus has to say to us, even when we are challenged by His words, but remember, Jesus never rejected or excluded anyone, not the downtrodden, the leaper, the outcast, not the rich young man or the woman caught in adultery not the sinner, not the untouchable, not even the enemy. Why should we?



1. Homilies - Sundays of Advent

2. Homilies for January 

3. Homilies for Jan Feb

4. Homilies Feb Mar

5. Homilies Mar Ap

6. Homilies Ap May

7. Homilies May Jun

8. Homilies Jun Jul

9. Homilies July

10. Homilies August

11. Homilies September

12. Homilies October

Click here for HOMILIES - YEAR A & C