Sunday, September 27, 2015

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time - October 4, 2015

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First Reading Commentary
One's interior life can be measured by how one responds to the first four words of this Reading.  Certainly when God speaks everything else should be put aside because the Almighty is bigger than all the troubles and worries that are brought to prayer.  In the Mass Christ is present in both Word and Sacrament and thus demands our undivided attention. 
This Reading reveals God's will for man to have a partner.  The word "man" in Scripture often has more than a single meaning.  It can sometimes mean all of humanity, both male and female; and sometimes it takes on a prophetic meaning and speaks of Jesus Christ.  In this Reading all three understandings are communicated. 
The psalmist writes about the man whose will is in the law of the Lord (cf. Psalm 1:1-2).  Certainly this is a universal call to holiness for all of humanity; but one cannot overlook the prophetic edge by knowing that no one is more attuned to the will of the Father than the Son. 
In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit returns us to the Old Testament prophetic meanings through the unlikely instrument of Pontius Pilate when he says at Christ's trial: "Ecce Homo – Behold the Man" (John 19:5). 
In this Reading from Genesis man chose his suitable partner and calls her "woman" who is to be his wife and the two become one flesh.  Christ and His Bride, the Church, is the model for God's will for indissoluble unions.  The Church exhibits the oneness with her Bridegroom because the Church is the extension of Christ on earth.  And as woman is formed from the side of man as he slept, the Church was formed from the Side of Christ as He slept on the Cross (cf. John 19:34). 
Man's privilege to name all the animals is an intimation of God's plan for man (all of humanity) to have dominion over them.  And in the God-Man, Jesus Christ is the remarkable encounter with the created dominion and the Eternal Dominion; that is to say, He Who is Eternal but also was created in the womb of the Blessed Virgin and is both Ruler and the Icon of obedience.  In Jesus Christ we behold the Covenant Maker and the Covenant Abider, the Creator and the Created, the King and the Servant, the Priest and the Victim, He Who died and He Who defeated death.
Second Reading Commentary
In this Letter to the Hebrews the author writes specifically about Christ.  In the Old Testament, the psalmist writes about man being made "a little less than the angels" (Psalm 8:6).  Certainly in this Letter to the Hebrews the writer makes us aware of that prophetic verse coming to fruition in Jesus Christ; but one cannot ignore that the psalmist is also pointing out humanity's dominion over all other creatures.  In these Scriptures that reflect on both Christ and humanity, one should marvel at the boundless love God has for us; so much so that He would even become one of us in order to be closer to us.  Since so much of Almighty God is a mystery, we'll have to wait until we get to heaven to fully appreciate how humble is the act for the One, Perfect God to clothe Himself in Flesh. 
In Jesus Christ's Human Nature, He was made lower than the angels and tastes death.  The mystery of God and Man in one Person really comes into play in this Reading.  He Who cannot die, dies.  He Who has myriads of angels at His call is lower than the angels.  He through Whom all things exist becomes one among a lowly existence and brings many children to eternal glory, which only the Most High God can do; but this lofty, salvific act is done through the servile means of human suffering. 
The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity is Man which enables man to call Him "Brother."  Our Brother gave us the privilege to address the First Person of the Blessed Trinity as "Father."  And from the Cross she who is called "Woman" by our Brother, is given to us to be our "Mother" (cf. John 19:27). 
To even come close to grasping the intimacy all this suggests by being God's family, it would likely require a soul to have progressed to the unitive way of Christian perfection; that is, those who have advanced beyond any hunger or desire for temporal things and have surrendered themselves exclusively to the Peace that the world cannot give.

Gospel Commentary
Whenever the Christian soul approaches Jesus to ask Him something, it is usually a request for a personal need or a prayer offered for someone else's needs.  It is never done with the intent to trip Him up as the Pharisees are attempting to do in this Gospel.  Perhaps in our darkest despair we may ask Christ to prove Himself by relieving our misery.  But moments such as these are offered from turbulent emotions and not from faith. 
The Pharisees are asking about the lawfulness of divorce knowing that Moses permitted it.  The question suggests that the Pharisees already had some inkling that Jesus is against divorce.  Jesus uses hardness of hearts as the reason that Moses allowed divorce.  The Church begins each day of her prayer with the plea: "Today if you hear His Voice, harden not your hearts" (Psalm 94 [95]:8 – Divine Office/Liturgy of the Hours).  The Mosaic Law stated that a man may divorce his wife if she became unpleasing to him because of some uncleanness (cf. Deuteronomy 24:1-4).  While most Jews accepted the law regarding divorce, there were many disputes as to what constitutes "some uncleanness."  At the time of the Mosaic Law only the husband had the right to initiate a divorce.  In Christ's day, Roman law granted the husband and wife equal rights in dissolving a marriage (cf. J. Bonsirven, Le Divorce dans le Noveau Testament).  The Mosaic Law inherits a primitive form of marriage as implied in the Book of Genesis (cf. 1:27 & 2:24).  What Jesus is instituting in marriage is a sacramental bond, which, being divinely instituted produces or causes grace in the souls of the husband and wife. 
The Sacrament of Marriage or any sacrament cannot be reversed by man because man has no power over divine grace.  Your baptism can't be taken away.  The grace of the Eucharist cannot be reversed.  Because we are sinners, we may need Confession frequently but that doesn't mean that previous absolutions are null and void.  Even when a priest is laicized because of immoral conduct, an indelible priestly mark remains on his soul.  Being laicized makes it illegal for him to exercise the priestly ministry.  Therefore, with this understanding it becomes clearer as to why Jesus says: "What God has joined together, no human being must separate."  While such teachings are not always popular, one must surely feel a sense of security and a sureness of standing on solid ground when realizing and grasping the power of grace. 
Jesus proclaims that the Kingdom of God belongs to those that are like children.  Those of us who are adults have surely over the years had our minds polluted with things that are not so innocent; thus our behavior at times can be questionable.  Once again, though, we can turn to the grace of the Sacrament of Confession to restore our innocence.  God embraces us and blesses us in that sacrament and welcomes us back to His family much like the parable of the prodigal son (cf. Luke 15:11-32).