Reading the Word of God together is a necessity, says Pope Francis.
For couples, reading the Word of God together is a necessity, says Pope Francis in his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia. “The word of God is not only good news in a person’s private life but also a criterion of judgment and a light in discerning the various challenges that married couples and families encounter,” he write (Amoris Laetitia, 227).
There are appropriate words for difficult circumstances. Each couple goes through trials, whether they’re related to a particular time, illness, difficulties at work, or a lack of listening or communication. In the midst of turmoil, when the crisis seems insurmountable, the Word of God consoles and enlightens those who take the time to read and meditate on it.
Here’s a selection of six Bible texts, to be read by a couple together, invoking the Holy Spirit, in order to find the help needed to overcome marital crises. These texts are accompanied by comments from Bénédicte Lucereau, marriage counsellor and author of “Words of the Bible for Couples” (“Paroles de la Bible pour les couples”).
THE WEDDING OF TOBIAS AND SARAH (Tb 7: 9-13)
“Marriage is an institution that binds two families together,” explains Bénédicte Lucereau. Each spouse must “leave their own family” to create the couple. To do this, parents must also “release” their children, and leave them free to lead their own lives: it’s a pillar of marriage. Thus, “God accompanies the freedom of the spouses who exchange their consent, and gives them the grace to love each other in fidelity, despite the obstacles and unforeseen circumstances of life.”
HAVE MERCY ON ME, MY GOD (Ps 50:3-14)
The reality is that “we are all weak, proud and self-centered,” says Lucereau. “As a couple, we like to be right, to get our own way, to be served, or pampered … We have trouble giving ourselves without measuring and receiving the love of the other, who does not always meet our expectations. We are sinners who don’t know how to love well.” Do we recognize that fact? God always forgives us, and teaches us to love like He does. Do we ask His forgiveness? Do we forgive our spouse for his or her weaknesses, inadequacies, and faults?
GOD COMFORTS SPOUSES WHO FEEL THEY’RE AT THEIR LIMIT (Is 40:28-31 and 41:13)
“How many times as a couple, we feel fatigue, weariness, the weight of daily life and routine, and sometimes also the anguish of the future,” says Lucereau. “God tells us that He is at our side, that He committed Himself alongside us on the day of our sacrament of marriage, and that He will always give us what we need for the journey. Do we trust Him? Do we ask Him for what we need? Do we thank Him when He restores our strength, and when He comes to our aid?”
JESUS CALMS A STORM (Mt 8:23-27)
Turmoil, tempests, crises … All couples experience them. “The ‘boat’ of the couple is threatened by waves, headwinds, and currents that separate their paths and lead to bad rocks,” says Lucereau. Resentment, jealousy, indifference, disenchantment, and similar sentiments can lead to a break-up. “But it’s when we feel poor, powerless, and in danger that our cry touches the heart of God: ‘Help, Lord, we are sinking! Save us! Save us!’ Then Jesus draws us to Himself and drives away the spirits of fear, independence, and division. He recreates our love and configures it to His own.”
THE WEDDING AT CANA (Jn 2:1-11)
It would be a terrible wedding where there is no more wine for the celebration! How sad is a marriage where the initial joyful love has turned into an acidic vinegar of endless reproaches, parallel lives, boredom or arguments. “Jesus tells us that with Him, life is worth it! The best wine is for the end. Yes, that’s right!” explains Bénédicte Lucereau. “A humble love, which is received daily from God’s hands, is a work of craftsmanship which requires time and energy, but which is fruitful: it leads to joyful wonder at the hidden beauty of the other, an ever-new dance of a relationship that is nurtured and reinvented every day. That gives glory to God!”
CALL FOR UNITY AND PEACE (Eph 4, 1-6)
“This is a word from Paul that could be the rule of life for couples and ensure good relational health: humility, gentleness, patience, and the search for unity in peace,” says the coach. “Only the Holy Spirit, invoked daily, can grant us the grace to live this communion in love as Saint Paul describes it. It is this ‘one body, one soul, one spirit’ while remaining two distinct and well separated persons, that becomes a form of evangelization, for the couple thus testifies to the uniqueness and universality of God’s love for each human being: ‘See how they love each other!’”