Homily for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B (2)

Homily for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

Theme: Rediscover the splendor of gift of love

By: Fr. Jude Chijioke


Homily for Sunday October 3 2021

Readings: Genesis 2:18 – 24; Hebrews 2: 9 – 11; Mark 10: 2 -16

In our liturgy today, it is Jesus himself who leads us back to the first reading: in the discussion with the Pharisees on divorce, having abandoned the negative terrain of the crisis, he leads his interlocutors towards the positive horizon of perfect married love. From the passage of Deuteronomy (24: 1- 4) concerning the Mosaic procedure of divorce with the relative official bill or certificate of repudiation, he goes back to the luminous text of Genesis in which love is inscribed in the living flesh, that is, in the very existence of man and woman. Jesus returns to the beginning of creation, that is, to the fundamental project that God had in mind when he created man and woman. And with a single stroke he evokes the intense and wonderful page of chapter 2 of Genesis which constitutes today’s first reading. God had dreamed of an absolute unity for the couple. When the woman had appeared on the side of the lonely man, the wall of his solitude is cracked, and the complementarity and total unity of love is celebrated in that eternal hymn of love: “This now is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh!”

On stage is a character who in Hebrew is called Ha ‘Adam, literally “the man”. The protagonist, therefore, is not so much a certain Adam nor only the first man but he is the man of all times and of all lands, humanity. He feels alone, lost, without a “similar helper” or, as the original Hebrew says, a helper “that is in front of him”, a person then in whom he can fix his gaze in an intense dialogue and communion. The wall of this solitude is knocked down in two distinct stages. The first passes through the power over the universe, symbolized in animals. Man “imposes names” on living realities and in biblical language “imposing names” means penetrating the secrets of beings, discovering their structures and purposes. But the man, having reached the evening of his rational and operational adventure, still feels incomplete and dissatisfied: he had not found that “similar helper”.

Here, then, is the decisive stage: the appearance of the woman cancels all loneliness; the pains, the anxieties, the questions of man will now be transfused in the heart of another creature, this time truly “similar to him”. The irreplaceable uniqueness of the woman, the complementarity of the two sexes and the relationship of love are celebrated here, a communion so deep as to make them a single existence, “one flesh”, a unity that will not be extinguished even with death because “love is as strong as death”.

God is represented in this scene under the symbol of the builder who creates a reality so close to man as to be comparable to something of his very being, the “rib” which stands for “life, live, living”. And later in the Genesis account the woman will be called Eve, “the living one or the mother of all the living”. Woman and man have the same “basis”, the same size, the same life. If this relationship of interpersonal communion is cracked, if the dialogue is canceled, if the woman is reduced to a fetishistic idol or a precious toy – like the things that man gives their names by dominating them – then humanity would again be shattered in depth, incomplete and abandoned to solitude.

At this point, the words of the ancient author of Genesis are superimposed on those of Jesus who breaks the controversies that revolved around the divorce legislation of ancient Israel be it the restrictive of the Rabbinic Shammai or the liberal and all too permissive of Hillel. Christ does not focus his attention on failure, on the negative but on the fundamental positive norm which is at the root of the encounter of matrimonial love, and which had been splendidly formulated by Genesis. Jesus in his constant proposal of radicality and totality presents the ideal project of Christian marriage to the disciples. An ideal of integral donation which requires commitment, seriousness, authentic love and which cannot be easily abrogated by “permission”, or “dispensation”, such as the one introduced by the Deuteronomic law. The goal that the Christian spouse must always have on married life is the one of the fullness of love and continually nourished fidelity. Christian marriage, precisely because it is a sign of the infinite love of God, cannot be reduced to a contract, it is binding and must be considered as a decisive vocation.

In this liturgy, which has almost a nuptial tone, all Christian couples are invited to rediscover the splendor of their gift of love. May those who are united by this holy bond called matrimony rediscover the freshness of total self-giving, perhaps tarnished by time and habit. In those who are preparing for that decisive choice, we pray for an awareness of entering a wonderful world to be built with everyday living commitment. And on those who have behind them the bitterness of a love that is broken or in crisis, may the gift of the Spirit fall to “warm up what is freezing” and to forgive, understand, support them on a dark path.

Fr. Jude Chijioke


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