Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 GN 2:18-24
Responsorial Psalm PS 128:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6
- (cf. 5) May the Lord bless us all the days of our lives.
Reading 2 HEB 2:9-11
Alleluia 1 JN 4:12
Gospel MK 10:2-16
Homily—October 6 & 7, 2018 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
In the first reading we hear God saying “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him.” But the cattle, the birds and the wild animals did not prove to be a suitable partner for the man. God makes a woman from the rib of the man and the two become one flesh in marriage. I find that it is important for me to have friends, both men and women, that I can share life with to avoid the dangers that come from loneliness. A great help for me is my relationship with God and my ability to spend time in prayer and reflection.
Pope Benedict XVI wrote “If there were such a thing as a loneliness which could no longer be penetrated and transformed by the word of another. . . then we should have real, total loneliness and frightfulness, what theology calls ‘hell’”. The sacrament of marriage is Christ’s answer to hell. If we have experienced a companionship that has moved our hearts to an otherwise impossible union with Jesus Christ, then our first task is to remain faithful to it with the same tenacity with which little children cling to their parents.
The other day I saw a woman wearing a sweatshirt that said something like “Dogs not Dudes”. I take it her relationship with men was not going well.
Last Thursday, on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi I blessed five dogs and witnessed how they enjoyed their owners and how friendly they could be once they realized I was nice to them and not a danger. I remember some of my favorite dogs on the farm growing up; especially,” Mike”, a half German Shepherd and half Collie and a little Fox Terrier that we called “Corky”.
In the Gospel the Pharisees who approached Jesus with their question were playing a part in the ongoing antagonism between Jesus and religious leaders. In those days the legitimacy of divorce was not an issue; debate on the question centered on the motives for which a man could be rid of his wife. When Jesus asked about Moses’ “command,” he knew full well that there was no commandment against divorce. The careful Pharisees replied that Moses “permitted” divorce. That gave Jesus the opportunity to revisit the purpose of the law as a guide, not the recipe for fulfilling the God-given vocation to be human.
When the Pharisees asked Jesus their question about legality, he pointed them to the law. He then expressed his own opinion grounded in what God had revealed through the process of creation saying that as the man and woman were made for each other, the partnership of marriage takes precedence over every other human relationship, including those of blood and family of origin. Although Jesus had already radicalized this teaching by calling his disciples to make their relationship to him and their community the primary relationship of their lives, he never called spouses to leave one another. Relatedly, 1 Corinthians 9:5 indicates that the wives of Peter and other disciples participated in their mission travels.
We see the intent of God for marriage in the gospel today. “God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”
We must do what we can to support marriages as well as minister to those who have experienced the pain of a divorce. There are often times an innocent party in a divorce who is blindsided when their spouse says they want a divorce without any counseling or effort to work out the difficulties. Sometimes a relationship has become so physically and/or emotionally violent that a divorce is the only safe answer. Human weakness is found in all who follow Christ. No one is perfect. However, God is merciful and doesn’t measure his followers simply by their last mistake or sin. Christ’s Church seeks ways to pastorally care for every pain arising from human failings in every walk of life. Just because a person has a divorce does not exclude them from receiving Holy Communion. Divorced people need our prayers and support through a difficult time.
Jesus wants his disciples to be open to loving one another. Love delights, eliciting joy from those loved. Pope Francis wrote that this joy “is a foretaste of heaven”. In Amoris Laetitia Pope Francis explains the joy that can be found in marriage: “It is a union possessing all the traits of a good friendship, concern for the good of the other, reciprocity, intimacy, warmth, stability and the
resemblance born of a shared life”.
It is wonderful to see people loving and caring for each other until death do them part.
As a spouse, what are you doing to keep your love fresh and renewed?
If you were to counsel a newly married couple, what three things would you recommend them to do?—feel free to write them out and get them to me—I would like to see your suggestions!!