|27th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Psalm 128:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6
Mark 10:2-16 or 10:2-12
So as to be more available to the graces of the liturgy’s scripture,
imagine Adam and Eve meeting for the first time in the garden of plenty.
Adam looks around at all the animals to which he has given names, but he
has not seen anything so like himself and so different. Eve seems quite attracted
by everything around her and seems to find Adam strangely different from
the surrounding animals, but somehow like herself, but not quite. They smile
at their apparent confusion and stroll off to pet the biblical zoo members.
There is a sacredness within the themes from Sacred Scripture for today’s
liturgy. Sexuality, marriage, and the reception of God’s kingdom as one accepts
little children. All three are both sacred and indeed, mysterious. For all
that is written about all three areas, the mystery grows all the more. No
book, article, movie, play, lecture-series, or college course has helped
us understand perfectly how human love should be expressed, lived, and celebrated
as humanly and divinely sacred.
We have much about which and with which to pray here. For those who are married,
the prayer may center with the disappointment that their partners are not
fulfilling totally their hearts’ needs. For those who are not married and
desire to be, the prayer may be one of trust and longing. The prayer may
also center around love they have received and wish to share intimately.
We can all pray for a greater sense of the sacredness of love,
marriage, sexuality, chastity, and human loving relationships. We can pray
with the experiences of such mysteries which guide us towards the acceptance
of the mysterious God’s kingdom.
We hear in the First Reading from the second account of God’s creating the
world and all that is in it. It is helpful to remember that Genesis is both
about beginnings and “continuings.” Those various parties or authors who
combined to offer this book to the Jewish people, wanted them to know their
history, their identity, and their destiny. They wrote so as to help the
“People of God” remain just that. There was an order in the beginning and
we hear about one part of that history and orderliness today.
Adam comes from the earth, “Adamah.” We have the English word “human” meaning
from the “earth” as well. As a creature, Adam experiences his incompleteness.
He is somehow separate from the rest of creation and from the Creator. We
hear about God’s offering Adam a someone who will make him almost complete.
Remember now, the woman was given to Adam so to help him dominate and keep
order. The “two” are to become “one” not merely sexually, but more intimately,
“one” in assisting God’s continuing creation in an orderly manner.
This “someone” is also of the “earth” and though this “someone” is different,
there is a basic similarity of longing for completeness. She is more than
one more creature to help Adam, she is absolutely like him in God’s eyes,
and absolutely different in Adam’s eyes. She is bone and flesh of Adam, and
her heart's desire will hope that Adam is the One, but both find out that
the One is not each other, but beyond. As we know, both reached out together
for completion by eating something forbidden, but what they wanted to grasp
was the One and what they got was the many.
Mark presents us with a picture of the Pharisees questioning Jesus about
marriage, divorce and the Law. Jesus reminds them of what and why Moses wrote
about divorce and adultery. He quotes from Genesis to complete his response.
The disciples get into the discussion later inside. His response to them
affirms not only marriage, but the orderliness which human love is meant
There is a slight turn of events when children are brought to Jesus for a
blessing. The disciples want to continue the discussion about marriage and
divorce, but Jesus uses this opportunity to teach the disciples something
about embracing the Kingdom of God.
Jesus embraces the little children and blesses them for how trusting they
are. Are the teachings of Jesus an interruption or a blessing? Should the
children be prevented or received? Marital fidelity, the sacredness of family
unity, commitment to Chastity are all included in Jesus’ teaching and mission.
These teachings impinge on our basic human freedom to do whatever seems good,
feels good, and sounds good. As sacred as our human desire to love and be
loved is, as sacred as sexual expression of love is, as sacred as our desire
for commitment is, all three can so easily result in disorder and desecration.
Believe this or not. While writing this, I called my younger sister and her
teenage son answered the phone. He is in his second year of high school.
Eventually I asked him how the girls were at his school. “Okay” he said,
“could be better.” I laughed heartily. “Could be better” is what people who
love each other can say often, if not always. Marriage is the commitment
to embracing what “could be better” in hopes that it will be. The Kingdom
of God is the divine embrace of what “could be better” if we accept the challenge
of living the teachings of Jesus with the trust of the little children. Adam
and Eve hoped that the other would turn out to be God and they failed in
being and finding total completion in each other or in the rest of creation.
Rather than infinite completion, they are to each other a human invitation
to go beyond their partner, beyond the zoo, beyond the apple tree to the
embrace of the creator of them all. This too takes the trust of a little
“The Lord is good to those who hope in him,
to those who are searching for his love.” Lamentations