Marriage Evangelization 101

Fr. Teodulo P. Gonzales, SJ
Marriage Evangelization 101

For the past thirty-six to thirty-seven years, I have been assigned to the family ministry (engaged couples, married couples, and families). I have learned from the struggles of my own family, my parents, and my siblings. All a challenge and a blessing.

Through our life journey, we realize we don't have the right concept of loving just as the people of Israel in Biblical times got distracted and followed a worldly ideation of love. (Such as love is blind and drunk with the world's concept of pleasure, power, and possession.) Other gods occupy our hearts. We let the true God out of our life.

But in our relationship with God, we witness and learn that He takes care of His people with enduring love. God is love, the God of the covenant.

Sometimes, (marriage and the sacrament of matrimony) KASAL turns into SAKAL (dominance, and suffocation which turns into abuse). SAKAL may lead to rebellion or AKLAS (stubbornness, defiance, and opposition), which turns into ASKAL (like a stray dog outside the home), then, it might end up to KALAS (separation). But when people find ways to better demonstrate and say I love you; become more supportive, appreciative, and treasuring of their loved one; people can become the better version of who they are. This is the way forward, when married life, KASAL becomes LAKAS (strength or empowerment).

God’s healing love, through Jesus our Savior, is the Good News. Jesus was crucified and died but He rose again. Some of the apostles feared in disbelief, doubted, and ran away, but not for one moment did Jesus abandon them. Jesus accompanied them and called them to a new realization through His words and the experience of the breaking of the bread. The disciples realized their denials and fears.

God's saving and healing love, through Jesus, our Savior is the Good News. He is ETERNAL LIFE, ETERNAL LOVE; welcoming not blaming or shaming (non-judgmental), only reminding people not to sin anymore.

One way of being Catholic is to admit God is calling us to His presence— to have cleansing or detoxification of the many things that block our relationship with God and be part of a fellowship of the Body of Christ, the People of God (in Baptism); celebrate our charisms and uniqueness for the ministry of married life and body of Christ (through Confirmation). This is precisely what Paul discovered, there are many gifts in the Body of Christ. Even Peter and the other disciples discovered this. Peter and the Council of Jerusalem had to accept that God is also in the Gentiles! And later, even beyond the so-called Jews— to include the Romans, the Spanish, the Irish, the Indians, the Far East, the Native Americans, the Latin Americans, the Africans or the Filipinos, and the rest of the world! The Church was bigger, global, and diverse! 

The body of Christ needs to be nourished and fed with the Body of Christ (through the Holy Eucharist).

We are called to play different roles to serve, gifts of married life, parenting, and family life but also the gift of the priesthood to offer (through the sacrament of the Holy Orders) and then discover the need for a radical reorientation to Christ (make him our Easter Light, the Center of our lives, not self-centeredness or narcissism— even the Church acknowledges this (thus the sacrament of Reconciliation).

The Son of God was the stone rejected but He became the cornerstone of the Church, the burning bush, and the very purpose, the principle, and the purpose of our lives! This was the reason for the Spirit of the Early Church or the Apostles into the Early Fathers.

Then, to see the presence of the Lord in the vulnerability of aging (through the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick). No one is exempt— bright or ignorant, rich or poor, healthy or sick- we all must face death. The gift of aging is wisdom, that there is a dying to be born to a new life. Somehow, we must face dying to our old selves. No escaping from this. Married or not, we will have to learn to be humble, to be counted as 0 and God becomes number 1. If God is number 1 and we are 0, we are no longer 0 but a 10.

Couples tell us their 10 commandments. This I learned by listening to them.

1. Always put God as first and at the Center of their life (Ibigin ang Diyos ng higit sa lahat, Siya ang mamayani at mamagitan sa buhay!).

2. Prepare to enter married life (Nagtutulungan at nagbibigayan).

3. Mutually understand each other (Pagpapahalaga sa bawat isa).

4. Be mutually in love (Nagmamahalan).

5. Start with self-discipline or self-mastery (Magsimula sa disiplina sa sarili).

6. Mutually understand each other (Nagkakaunawaan).

7. Have a harmonious relationship (Nagtutulungan at nagbibigayan).

8. Be financially secure and sustainable (May pinagkukunan ng kabuhayan).

9. Have a lasting commitment (Magkasama sa hirap at ginhawa).

10. Have effective problem solving (Magkaroon ng epektibong kasagutan sa problema).