One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

October 08, 2006

For the Twenty-Seventh Ordinary Sunday of the Church Year

Mark 10:2-16

Jesus insisted on the absolute necessity of eating and drinking his flesh and blood.
That is a hard teaching.
Today in his Gospel, he puts before us another hard teaching.
The Pharisees have deliberately put Jesus on the spot by asking him a controversial question.
Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?

Jesus gave them two answers.
His first answer is from a manmade law that the prophet Moses gave.
Moses permitted divorce because we lost our original “TENDERNESS of heart” through the original sin of our race.
Sin brought “HARDNESS of heart” to the human race.
The hearts of man and woman can harden and shut out each other, the rest of the world and God.
That is the way things are, and Jesus has acknowledged that.
However, he pointed out that the way things really are now is a contradiction of God’s ORIGINAL and ONGOING plan for man and woman.
In his second answer to the Pharisees today, Jesus jumped all the way back to the beginning, long before Moses— even before the beginning of human sin.
He said:
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.

That is hard, since men and women are no longer just as they were before the first sin of our race.
They are able and even liable to treat each other with great hardness of heart.
“HARDNESS of heart.”
There is the “heart” of the problem.
Hardness of heart is a result of the first sin of our race.
The pursuit of maturity, the pursuit of holiness, the pursuit of a healthy, happy and holy marriage will require perseverance in the struggle against sin, and perseverance in the cultivation of tenderness of heart.
In order to persevere against sin and persevere in tenderness of heart, husbands and wives need to set their sights beyond each other.
They need to set their sights on God.
That is because a marriage can also end up as a closed circle: an agreed upon mutual admiration society of two who are merely joined in their shared SELF-serving.
When children— as God and nature would have it— when children are permitted, to enter the life of a married couple, their marriage opens up and goes beyond itself.
When children are intentionally excluded, a marriage may be sterile— physically sterile, socially sterile and spiritually sterile.
Given the effects of sin in human history and the effects of sin in human personal lives, it is hard to live marriage according to the original plan of God.
Our obedience to God’s original plan— because of the present reality of sin— our obedience to God’s original plan can mean hard sacrifices.
Despite that fact, Jesus still upheld God’s original plan for husband and wife.
Jesus upheld God’s ORIGINAL plan as an ONGOING plan.
However, he does not leave us alone in this plan.
Here in his Eucharist, God himself tears open his tender heart to give us the intimate depths of his own self.
Here is the greatest and most complete of sacrifices.
Here is Love himself in his flesh and blood, serving us himself as food and drink.
In his Eucharist, just as in his Gospel, he asks from us more than we know how to give, but he also gives more than we know how to ask.
He does not ask us to be what we are not.
He asks that we open our hearts to what he is, for only then do we open our hearts to become and be what he made us to be: living, personal images of himself.

That God Be Glorified in All


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