27th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B – 2018

FIRST READING                     Genesis 2:18-24

The Lord God said: “It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a suitable partner for him.”  So the Lord God formed out of the ground various wild animals and various birds of the air, and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them; whatever the man called each of them would be its name.  The man gave names to all the cattle, all the birds of the air, and all wild animals; but none proved to be the suitable partner for the man.  So the Lord God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.  The Lord God then built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from the man.  When he brought her to the man, the man said:  “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called ‘woman’, for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.”  That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one flesh.

SECOND READING                  Hebrews 2:9-11

Brothers and sisters:  He “for a little while” was made “lower than the angels,” that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.  For it was fitting that he, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the leader to their salvation perfect through suffering.  He who consecrates and those who are being consecrated all have one origin.  Therefore, he is not ashamed to call them “brothers.”

GOSPEL                                    Mark 10:2-16

The Pharisees approached Jesus and asked, “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?”  They were testing him.  He said to them in reply, “What did Moses command you?”  They replied, “Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her.”  But Jesus told them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this commandment.  But from the beginning of creation, 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.”  In the house the disciples again questioned Jesus about this.  He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”  And people were bringing children to him that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them.  When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.”  Then he embraced them and blessed them, placing his hands on them.

My sisters and brothers in Christ,

Marriage!  The readings today speak to us about the creation of man and woman and their union with one another in marriage.  Today it is so difficult to speak about marriage because our culture is against the Christian idea of marriage.  We have to be able to speak clearly and yet not condemn anyone.

The first reading today is from the Book of Genesis and speaks of the creation of woman.  It is important to hear this teaching as it was meant and not to listen to it only with the interpretations of our time.  The author wants us to know that men and women come from the same creation, that there is a close relationship between men and women and that God creates both man and woman.  Woman is not inferior to man because of this account of the creation of woman.  No, the intent is to show that they are both from God

The second reading is from the Letter to the Hebrews.  The phrase that can link this second reading with the two other readings is this:  “He who consecrates and those who are being consecrated all have one origin.”  This reaffirms the teaching that we are all from God, that men and woman are equal even though not the same.  In the Letter to the Hebrews the point is that by being one in Christ, we are all saved.  From the point of view of marriage, the point is that men and woman are both created by God and can live a Sacrament together because they are both of God and marry to live out that relationship in God.

The Gospel is from Saint Mark.  The main point that Jesus wants us to understand is that divorce is not acceptable in the plan of God.  It is important that we recognize again that Jesus is arguing against a culture where divorce was easy and not challenged.  This is very similar to much of modern culture.  Divorce is widely accepted everyone to that point that many are suggesting that there should not even be marriage.  Just let people form relationships with anyone else and stay together until it no longer works!

For Jesus, marriage is clearly a gift from God.  Marriage is between a man and a woman.  Marriage is also about having children.  Marriage is a celebration of creation and of God’s love.  In much of our modern culture, people no longer believe in God.  People believe that marriage is just any two people making a commitment to one another.  Many today do not want to have children in a marriage because it complicates the marriage.  Finally, marriage is seen as something only on the human level and is not seen as a sacrament.

We Catholics have an enormous evangelization to do in our modern world.  Even simply to state the truth about how our Holy Scriptures and our Catholic tradition see marriage is highly offensive to many people.  Our challenge is first to live the teachings of Jesus and the Church and then to speak fearlessly about God’s plan for marriage and children.  We could even become martyrs for stating clearly the traditional teachings.  Let us walk with the Lord.

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip