Bulletin: October 3, 2021
Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Our readings today point to God’s deep commitment to human relationships. Our passage from Genesis begins with the declaration that God created human persons to be social beings, who can only thrive when they live in deep connection with each other and with God. The author of Hebrews teaches that the coming of Jesus as one of us shows God’s radical commitment to human life. Jesus’ teaching about divorce, described in today’s Gospel, shows God’s deep investment in marriage and, implicitly, all human relationships. When our personal relationships with others are distant or broken, God seeks to heal them. When social structures serve to maintain oppression, or to keep groups in ongoing conflict, God is working to overthrow them. Even when we give up on each other, God does not give up. God will work ceaselessly, in us and through us, within all the pain and joy of the human situation.
LIKE A CHILD
Today’s passage from Mark’s Gospel is in the context of Jesus’ teaching about the kingdom, or reign, of God. A common understanding was that entering the kingdom was based on family origin, or achievement, or status in the community. Jesus pushes back on this, and presents a child as a model of receptivity and openness.
This is not to suggest that adults must somehow reject the wisdom gained through adult experience and return to childhood. Adult maturity also includes the difficult journey, usually later in life, of letting go of illusions that we have built up about our own virtue, skills, and autonomy. Jesus’ teaching pushes back against our culture, which honors energy and vigor, expertise and achievement. These valuable gifts can fail us if we cannot accept our dependence on God who provides and cultivates these gifts. We can accept God’s graciousness in our life when we open our hearts as a child does.
PROUD TO BE HUMAN
This is the first of seven consecutive Sundays that we will share passages from the Letter to the Hebrews. The letter is an extended sermon by an unknown author directed to a Christian community where likely many were converts from Judaism. The author attempts to link Jesus to the story of the people of Israel, building toward an image of Christ as God’s perfect high priest. Christ the High Priest is described as the central link between humanity and God.
When we reflect upon the life and death of Jesus, we can more deeply accept that through Jesus, God knows what we humans experience. Jesus the High Priest embraces his humanity. In today’s passage, the author claims that Jesus is proud to be human, proud to be our brother in the family of God. The letter to the Hebrews is not only a celebration of Christ, it is an affirmation of the dignity of our own human life.