October 2, 2015

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time / Msgr. Owen F. Campion

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionThe Book of Genesis is the source of the first reading for this weekend. Among the first five books of the Bible, Genesis reveals great truths. God is the creator of all. He gives life.

God also created humanity as male and female. Further, it was God’s will that man and woman complement each other and live with each other.

The Scriptures at times are accused of belittling women. Certainly, the Scriptures were all developed within varying cultural contexts. To an extent, they were influenced by these cultural contexts.

The culture surrounding the development of Genesis was not solely Hebrew. Rather, it was surrounded by pagan cultures in which women were considered little better than animals.

Genesis, however, takes pains to declare the dignity of women, equal to that of men. This is the meaning of the story that Eve was created from Adam’s rib. Adam and Eve, man and woman, were one in their nature.

It was a revolutionary, fundamental basis for looking at both men and women. Both genders possess an equal dignity because all are created by God and infused with an eternal soul.

Finally, every person, regardless of everything else, holds the supreme dignity of being God’s own, God’s created, a physical, earthly sign of God.

This reading is a powerful testament to the historic Jewish and Christian concept of marriage. Ordained by God, marriage should never be defiled by exploitation, selfishness or insincerity.

For its second reading, the Church offers us a passage from the Epistle to the Hebrews that also reaffirms the dignity of each human.

According to this reading, humans who love and are faithful to God will one day rejoice in the presence of God. They will be with God. The key to attaining a place in God’s presence is Jesus.

Because Jesus is human as well as God, Jesus loves all people as brothers and sisters.

St. Mark’s Gospel provides the third reading. It is a familiar passage. The question centers upon the legality before God of divorce itself, not the grounds for divorce.

It is often assumed that this question put to Jesus opened an entirely new debate and, that in replying, Jesus set aside the Law of Moses.

Actually, the debate was vigorously underway at the time among persons learned in the Mosaic tradition. No universal agreement pertained as to what the Law of Moses meant in this regard.

By settling the question, by ending the debate, Jesus appeared in the role of the divinely constituted and divinely-empowered representative of God the Father.

Jesus set the question in its proper context. Marriage is God’s creation. It is subject to God’s will, and ideally marriage in the hearts of the spouses reflects God’s love.

In the same passage, though on another occasion, Jesus blessed the children. Like children everywhere and at all times, these children were innocent, vulnerable, but with great potential, not simply “to succeed” in this life, but to live with God in the eternal life.

Reflection

Fundamentally, these readings call us to a divinely revealed truth so often and so outrageously ignored in the world. Each human being is God’s precious child, God’s priceless masterpiece of creation. No one, and no society, has the right to demean or compromise this dignity.

The agonizing problems of this day and time all spring from refusing to honor all human beings as God’s own. So terror and prejudice reign.

Secondly, marriage comes from God. It is fully and absolutely within the overall purpose of God, namely to enable men and women better to know, to love and to serve God, and then finally to be with him in the wonder of heaven along with the angels. †

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