by Christopher and Rosina Gordon, Member Couple, Australian Catholic Marriage and Family Council
Christ on the cross, as well as heroes of the faith, model the sacrificial love needed for a successful marriage.
“Now Laban had two daughters, the elder named Leah, and the younger Rachel. Leah had lovely eyes, but Rachel was shapely and beautiful, and Jacob had fallen in love with Rachel. So his answer was, ‘I shall work for you for seven years in exchange for your younger daughter Rachel.’
Laban replied, ‘It is better for me to give her to you than to a stranger; stay with me.’ So Jacob worked for seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him like a few days because he loved her so much.
Then Jacob said to Laban, ‘Give me my wife, for my time is up and I should like to go to her.’ ” (Genesis 29:16-21)
Courtship in the ancient world was very different to the modern Western approach. Both parties, Jacob and Laban had to work out a fair exchange of goods and services in order for the marriage of Jacob and Rachel to take place. Through a dowry arrangement, Jacob needed to prove to Laban that he had the endeavour and resources to provide for his new wife.
Jacob went above and beyond in proving his care and love for Rachel. He promised initially to work for seven years for Rachel. Laban however tricked Jacob by giving Leah to him on his wedding night under cover of darkness. Jacob then agreed to work a further seven-year stint for Laban for Rachel (see Genesis 29:22-30).
We can imagine how upset Jacob would have been after being deceived into marrying Leah when he was in love with Rachel. His dowry arrangement with Laban had been for her. Even so, Jacob does not question Laban’s new request for another seven years of work but agrees to it readily and immediately.
Jacob obviously had a profound love for Rachel and was not afraid to sacrifice himself for her. This exemplifies a few key virtues necessary for a successful marriage. He displayed a very heroic version of self-giving love.
Through revelation we know that God exists in a trinity of persons who exist in a continual cycle of outpouring of love. Since we are created in the image and likeness of God, we also are to make a total outpouring or gift of ourselves in loving relationships. By doing this, we are living in the way that God has designed us.
We need only to look to Christ on the cross for the blueprint of what real love is. He bled and died to save us from sin and death. Spouses do well when their aim is to make a total gift of themselves in sacrificial love to their beloved and to their children.
Jacob and Rachel are very good examples of authentic lovers who were able to put their desires aside for the sake of another person. Both had to wait seven years to be with each other in marriage despite their strong attraction to one another. This couple endured hardships for the higher goal of strengthening their relationship.
There are many times during our marriages when we experience difficulties. Successful marriage takes a lot of hard work. Slowly over the years we learn to put our own selfish desires aside for the sake of our husband or wife. It is a gradual process which blossoms into life-giving love by the grace of God and by our cooperating with Him.
Great heroes of our faith, like Jacob and Rachel, show us the kind of self-giving love that is needed for a successful marriage. Sometimes of course, there are things out of our control. We must try our best to work through hardships and continue to lay down our lives for our spouse imitating Christ’s great example.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of your Word which contains heroic examples of love like Jacob and Rachel. Send your graces to husbands and wives everywhere. Help us to strive to die to ourselves daily and to sacrificially give ourselves to our spouses and our children.
In good times and in bad, make us mindful of the vows we made on our wedding day. Help us to grow daily in our ability to love selflessly and to look to Christ on the cross when we feel we can’t go on. Through the total outpouring of your eternal love, increase our virtues and strengthen our marital bond. Give us the courage we need to face hardships together. As we do, help us to keep an eye on Heaven where we will experience perfect and satisfying love when we see you face to face.
Watch Sacrificial Love www.youtube.com/watch?v=YinsRPQyU98
Canberra Declaration Daily Prayer Points for October
- AWAKENING to Christ: Renewal in the Church and Revival in the Nation – with millions coming to Christ. John 3:16
- AWAKENING for Marriage: Renewal of marriages and restoration of marriage. Ephesians 5: 25 -32
- AWAKENING for Family: Renewal and healing for families. Isaiah 61:1