Sunday, October 03, 2021

Between Boon & Bane

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

Readings: Genesis 2:18-24; Psalm 127(128); Hebrews 2:9-11; Mark 10:2-16

Video: YouTube DIRKWORKS2

I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden. Along with the sunshine, there’s gotta be a little rain some time…

My dear friends, I won’t ask you whether you know these lines from a song that topped the charts back in 1970. You may risk revealing your age... Suffice to say that the song refers to that time in life when a blessing begins to feel like a burden, when sunshine turns to rain. Have you ever experienced this before? A family is thrilled, for example, when it first receives a puppy. But it later realises that, in addition to looking cute, puppies also bark incessantly, chew indiscriminately, and require patient toilet-training. What to do then? Return the gift? But what if, instead of a puppy, the gift is a human baby… or a spouse… or life itself?

What to do when blessings start to feel like burdens? This is also a question our readings invite us to ponder today. At first glance, the gospel presents little more than the all-too-familiar Catholic teaching on marriage. The repeating of which often risks alienating the divorced, depressing the single, and tempting the still-married to feel just a little too self-satisfied. But the gospel also offers us two contrasting responses to the moment when blessings become burdens.

For the Pharisees, if you are a man, and your wife starts to feel like a burden, the Law allows you to discard her and marry another. In effect, treating the woman more like property than a person. But the Lord's approach is different. By setting the question of marriage within the context of Creation, Jesus reminds us that, not just marriage, but life itself is, first of all, a generous gift from a loving God. From this perspective, important insights follow.

In the first reading, God doesn’t just present the man with the gift of another person, a woman. God actually teaches the man the proper process for building a loving relationship with an equal. The process involves three steps. First, the ego must be put to sleep. Then there needs to be a donation of oneself, signified by the rib. And only after these two steps are taken, can there be a true recognition of another as bone from my bones, and flesh from my flesh.

Strikingly, the second reading reminds us that these are also the same three steps that Jesus takes to save us. On the Cross, he submits to the sleep of Death. From his pierced side, flow blood and water. And at his Rising, his followers gain recognition as his adopted brothers and sisters, members of his Body. To recall this tremendous gift of Jesus, as we do now, is to receive a further gift. The gift of power, power to receive and to live life as it is meant to be lived, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, till death brings us before the One who gave us all.

Along with the sunshine, there’s gotta be a little rain some time… It’s unavoidable that life sometimes feels more like a burden than a blessing. As it probably does now, for many, in these trying times. Yet life remains a precious gift to be reverently received and courageously shared with others.  What must we do to live this gift ever more fully today?

No comments:

Post a Comment