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Breath of the Spirit
Pastoral, Liturgical, Teaching, and Social Justice Moments brought to you by DignityUSA.
Breath of the Spirit is our electronic spiritual and liturgical resource for our members and potential members. Nothing can replace your chapter or other faith community but we hope you will find further support here for integrating your spirituality with your sexuality and all the strands of your life.
Our imitation of Jesus’ dying and rising in our everyday life changes how we relate to others in that everyday life, especially those with whom we’ve vowed to be one.
OCTOBER 4TH, 2015: TWENTY-SEVENTH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
Biblical morality revolves around relationships. That’s why today’s three readings are so significant.
As Christians we stand in awe of the relationship Jesus of Nazareth has with us. The author of the letter to the Hebrews couldn’t have described it any better: “He ‘for a little while’ was made ‘lower than the angels,’ that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. . . . Therefore, he is not ashamed to call (us) brothers and sisters.” We’re important enough to die for.
Yet even before Jesus appears in history, our sacred authors were deeply concerned with how we relate to one another. The Yahwistic writer of Genesis, for instance, active almost 3,000 years ago, wasn’t afraid to take on the culture of her own day and age when she passed on her well-known chapter 2 myth of the creation of woman.
In the author’s day and age, women were not only regarded as unequal to men, they were often looked upon as being sub-human. One need only check ancient Middle Eastern creation myths to see the belief that men were often formed from a different material than women.
But before the author gets to women, she must take care of animals.
We know from pre-historic European cave art that bestiality was certainly practiced in the ancient world. That seems to be why the sacred author begins this particular myth by stating, “None (of the wild animals) proved to be the suitable partner for the man.” That suitable partner had to be someone who is “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” In other words, made from the same stuff man’s made from.
That radical belief also becomes the author’s “etiological” reason behind intercourse. Because man and woman were originally one, they’ll engage in acts of intimacy which will again make them one. Quite a different relationship between men and women than the Yahwistic writer’s 1,000 BCE culture envisioned.
Mark’s Jesus takes that relationship one giant step further. Though contemporary Jewish law permitted divorce under certain circumstances, he outlaws it completely. Falling back on the Yahwist’s concept of oneness during intercourse, he contends such a oneness is a permanent condition; it can’t be broken. Once one, always one.
Though modern psychologists often bring up situations when a personal decision to become one with another wasn’t made with full understanding of what such a decision entails – and even church law provides dispensations from some unions – Jesus isn’t talking about exceptions. He’s simply stating a general principle: when two of his followers give their word to one another in such a serious, life-changing moment, that word is to be kept. Our imitation of Jesus’ dying and rising in our everyday life changes how we relate to others in that everyday life, especially those with whom we’ve vowed to be one.
It also changes how we relate to “insignificant” people in our lives, as Jesus’ disciples discover at the end of our gospel pericope. Though they see the children as an avoidable aggravation, Jesus regards them as a sign of how his followers are to accept God’s kingdom around them: with the openness with which a child accepts the daily happenings in his or her life. He then reinforces his belief by embracing and blessing them.
Normally when biblical people bless someone or something, they’re not asking God to add something to the individual or object, they’re simply thanking God for the blessing which that person or thing already brings to their lives, something his disciples hadn’t noticed.
Perhaps we’d live more fulfilling lives if we, like Jesus, also looked upon our relationships as blessings, and not aggravations.
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