27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading I Genesis 2:18-24
Reading II Hebrews 2:9-11
Gospel Mark 10:2-16
The first Gospel reading today is about Adam and Eve and how man and woman were meant for each other. Jesus is tested by the Pharisees to see if Jesus knows what Moses commanded, and they ask him if it is possible for a man to divorce his wife. And Jesus asks, “What did Moses command you?” And so they tell him. And Jesus says, “Because of the hardness of your hearts, he wrote you this commandment. Man shall leave his mother and father, man shall leave their house and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no man ever separate.”
So we hear that today and it is difficult for many to understand and follow. It’s difficult for people who have had an experience of divorce whether it is a firsthand or second hand experience. Jesus knows that people are sinful. So, he acknowledges their sin and why Moses wrote that commandment. But Jesus also says, “This is the expectation. This is the ideal. This is the God all of you are to follow.”
So we have that expectation. But we also know that in the church, as well as outside the church, America has failed in this area of marriage for many factors and for many reasons. And that is unfortunate. We also know that those of us in the church are called to minister to everyone, whether their marriage has failed for whatever reason.
The church says, “This is how marriage is supposed to be.” Now we cannot change any teaching of God. It is not within our power. So we face again the difficulties of what marriage is called to be, verses sometimes what marriage ends up being. Again, we are called to minister to everybody.
It may seem like the second part of the Gospel does not fit into the first section when Jesus says, “Let the children come to me, those who are like these children will inherit the Kingdom of God.” And we have in the second reading from Hebrews that Christ has brought many children to God. We need to remember that each of us, by our baptism, are made children of God and are made members of his family.
Let’s think of our everyday lives. I have very good parents. When I was growing up did I do everything they wanted me to do? When I was a little boy did I go to bed on time when I was supposed to, particularly on a school night, at 8:30 or 9 p.m.? Did I always want to do that? No, not by any means. When I got older did I want to be home at the time set for curfew? No, not always. Later in life, did I want to phone my parents every day, or every week? If I was able to phone them, it was OK. If I didn’t, that was OK too.
It is not about doing everything our parents expects us to do. They can say, “This is my expectation for you. This is what I want you to do and it is for your own good.” So eventually I did what my parents told me to do, and when I did not, I suffered the consequences.
We are all children of God and we are all called, by our relationship with him, to obey his commandments. We are all called to live in Christ. Living in Christ means being called to something greater. It means being called to everyday conversion of life. It’s means being able to pray, “I’m having a hard time with this teaching, and I’m having a hard time with this discipline. God help me to understand. Help me to accept this teaching.”
We are called to go to Christ. That doesn’t mean that our life is going to be easy. It doesn’t mean that once we obey everything our life will be perfect. Because we sin, we fall, but Christ always has his hand out for us. So even when faced with a difficult teaching of the church, or a difficult teaching like we have today about what the expectation of marriage is supposed to be, we are all called to go to Christ.
To say, “You know, I may not understand this. It’s hard to accept because I have seen marriages where there is something wrong within them. But again, we are faced with the fact that due to the nature of original sin, and due to the nature of people’s sinfulness — sometimes, and for many reasons, marriages fail. But we are called to minister to them. We are called to love everybody. As we know, love calls us to something greater than we are at this moment.
So if there are any difficulties we have with the church, if there are any difficulties we have with the teachings of Christ, we pray, with humility, and go to Christ, God the Father, as his children, with love in our hearts and ask him to help us with our difficulties and help us with our struggles.
We pray for the grace to serve one another regardless of our circumstances, and we go to God with whatever we nee
Father Adam Pritchard was ordained a priest on Saturday, May 23, 2015, and is parochial vicar at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Quincy, IL.
(TASCAM DR 40 file 0013)