During the extraordinary synod on the family—that was the theme, wasn’t it?—as I have been praying the Divine Office I have reflected on the fact that the synod fathers were praying the same prayers and reading the same readings as I. Often I have been struck by what seemed to me a clear message in Scripture directed especially at them, a spiritual “daily bread” to nourish and fortify them for this particular moment.
Today, Friday October 17th, the feast of the great early Martyr Ignatius of Antioch, the message in the Office of Readings seemed clearer than ever.
The Psalm for the Office is Psalm 55, which is a lament (“My heart is stricken within me”) for a betrayal (“If this had been done by an enemy I could bear his taunts….But it is you my own companion, my friend. How close was the friendship between us. We walked together in harmony in the house of God”.) is a fitting prelude to the Scriptural reading from the prophet Malachi (emphasis not orthographically in the original):
“And here is something else you do; you cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping and wailing, because he now refuses to consider the offering or to accept it from your hands. And you ask,’Why?’ It is because the Lord stands as witness between you and the wife of your youth, the wife with whom you have broken faith, even though she was your partner and your wife by covenant. Did he not create a single being that has flesh and the breath of life? And what is this single being destined for? God-given offspring. Be careful for your own life, therefore, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. For I hate divorce, says the Lord the God of Israel, and I hate people to parade their sins on their cloaks, says the Lord Sabaoth. Respect your own life, therefore, and do not break faith like this” (Mal 2:13-16).
Perhaps this might be included in the final report of the synod?
Postscript: The passage from Malachi in the Office ends where my excerpt ends. And I see no need to comment. However, in checking the exact reference in my Bible, I came across the verse immediately following, verse 17, which also needs no comment, although I will say that it has a double message for all to hear:
“You have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet you say, ‘How have we wearied him?’ By saying, ‘Every one who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delights in them.’ Or by asking, ‘Where is the God of justice?’
I pray that the synod will be truly prophetic—in the footsteps of the inspired Malachi.