Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year B

Chambers Francis Photo.jpg

Francis E. Chambers, O.S.A.
St. Thomas of Villanova Monastery
Villanova, Pennsylvania

Readings
Gen 2:18-24
Ps 128:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6
Heb 2:9-11
Mk 10:2-16 or 10:2-12

We note that the first reading comes from chapter two of Genesis, which is believed to be the original creation story. By the way, chapter one of Genesis tends to emphasize God’s transcendence (the otherness), while chapter two tends to emphasize the immanence (or “withiness”) of God. But let’s begin with a short reflection on creation itself.

Basically, creation is God communicating Himself who wills to share His life. Because God is good, God is generous. Creation flows from the fullness of God’s goodness. So we come to know the Creator by understanding the things He made. At the head of creation is the human person. The human person is therefore the fulfillment of creation. In fact, Bishop Robert Barron suggests that creation “comes forth from the Creator in the manner of a liturgical procession, each element following the previous one in stately order. At the close of the procession is the human being, who functions, therefore, as the high priest of the chorus of praise.”[1] So it is the glory of creation and God’s intention in creation: nature, animals, humans and marriage as the unity of man and woman. It is therefore God’s will that marriage is between a man and a woman and monogomous.

This brings us to Christ’s teaching in chapter 10 (vv. 2-12) of Mark’s gospel today.

Christ’s teaching and reflection is to focus our attention on God’s intent in creation and specifically marriage as a union with God through man and woman. More specifically, Christ’s focus is on the sanctity of marriage rather than the lawfulness of divorce. While Jesus touches on the subject of divorce, he does so simply in response to a question about it. Jesus notes that Moses permitted divorce as a compromise for human weakness and a sign of the brokenness of the world. But this is not the ideal to which we are called. He even goes so far as to pronounce the indissolubility of marriage, quoting Genesis 2:24. While this injunction is not found in the Old Testament, Christ emphasizes it as an expression of the essential unity between humans and God that cannot be abrogated under any condition.

Returning to the point that creation is God’s communicating, what good is it if it is not received or understood? What might this say to us, whether we are married or not?

We are born with an existential sense of separation from others. Most of us spend most of our lives looking for someone or something that will resolve this separation. But if we are really honest with ourselves and connect with God’s plan of creation, we find that we will only find completion or wholeness in God alone. While God does indeed communicate through others, we might find partial fulfillment in another. Marriage is certainly one of those ways in which man and woman can become more complete. But whether we are married or not, each of us has to realize and come to peace with the fact that we are all what Ronald Rolheiser calls “unfinished symphonies.” Yes, we search and search, sometimes successfully, often unsuccessfully, for that someone that would make us complete in this life. But we are once again reminded in today’s readings that our ultimate destiny, our ultimate fulfillment is union with God. In the meantime,

we may find some union in marriage and even with the Church as the bride of Christ, but it is relative and not absolute. Expectations need to be realistic.

I often remind people that in the Judeo-Christian tradition, the love of which we speak is not primarily emotional or sentimental but what is called agape: an unselfish love that always places the other before oneself. It never does anything that will intentionally harm another, or as

Thomas Merton tells us, “love seeks only one thing: the good of the loved one.”

This is the goal of the Christian journey, whether married or not. As we reflect on today’s readings, we might ask ourselves how faithful have we been in bridging the gap between the God whom we do not see and the God we see day in and day out in others?

[1] Robert Barron, Renewing Our Hope (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University or America Press, 2020), p. 30.