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Contents: Volume 2 - The Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time - October 7, 2018


 

The 27th

Sunday

Ordinary

Time

 

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. --

5. --(Your reflection can be here!)

 

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Sun. 27 B

I think that this a tough set of readings for anyone who gives or listens to a homily this weekend, especially in the United States! The continuously revolving news cycle of eyebrow raising allegations involving powerful men mistreating women (many of whom claim sexual assault) or preying on innocent children portrays a part of our society that is just plain reprehensible. Speaking as a woman, I think it will be difficult for many in the congregation, especially the women, not to think about some of these current events this week.

The truth is that our readings do indeed set the ideal of God's purpose and plan for creation and marriage and right living. The "bill of divorce" was to protect the woman from being discarded arbitrarily without any possibility of survival in a society where she could not work or support herself. Jesus still reminds us to protect and care for the down-trodden and those marginalized and neglected among us.

How does our society and our Church actually treat and protect those today who find themselves as "alleged" victims or those not in keeping with the "happily ever after" scenario or those whose interactive experiences with "authority" don't match anything close to feeling accepted? (Think here of anyone who might have raised your own eyebrows ever because he or she was "different" in some way.) Most people will agree that there is much room for improvement.

The public outcry over the sexual abuse scandal in the Church and in some societal places like the entertainment industry has rightfully been formidable. My personal opinion is that the outcry has not been "enough" to go past these highly visible instances, not enough to change our society from the inside out, to change the tainted culture underneath all of the inequality that surrounds perceived power. The current outcry should extend to what we teach very young boys and girls and teenagers, to the wage controversies in the workplace, to the under-reporting of any kind of intimidation, to struggling single parent families, to more than a "pat on the head" support to those whose lives have been forever altered by inequality. As I see it, listening to people's stories is a good baby step forward, but having the courage to change your viewpoint because of the story and acting differently has got to follow or else "listening" really wasn't!

Where do we start to change and then actively engage in the healing process? Jesus tells us "Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it." How does a child accept other members of the kingdom? You might want to add to my list that begins with friendliness, truthfulness, kindness, curiosity, willingness to learn, sharing ...............

Most young children will interact with other children quite positively regardless of outward appearances, economic status, race, education, gender, age, or even character traits... until their parents intervene or they start to watch TV. Since God created men and women as equal partners of the earth, why must we, their descendants, impose arbitrary restrictions on treating each other as equals? To feel "better" ourselves?

It is time to check our consciences. It is time to say to ourselves: "I didn't see it that way, but maybe I should expand my viewpoint." Our change of heart could begin by leaving a decent tip when eating out or in what needs to be considered as crucially important when voting.

I recently heard that 1 out of every 4 women in the US has been sexually assaulted. That is a lot of hurting people who need healing to say nothing of the broken society in which we live. Hmm, tough readings that once had a narrow focus.

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Twenty Seventh Sunday in Ordered Time October 7 2018

Genesis 2:18-24; Responsorial Psalm 128; Letter to Hebrews 2:9-11; Gospel Acclamation 1st John 4:12; Mark 10:2-16

Okay, so what is the truth of the Genesis creation stories? Did God indeed create humanity last as the pinnacle of creation? Or did God create humanity before all other living beings? ‘Living beings’ is how Genesis classifies living and breathing animals. We should miss the point that these living beings are created out of the earth, the dirt that has been watered and made fruitful. It is the dirt, saved from chaos that Genesis describes as the condition of material reality before the Spirit of God hovered over it. From this earth, this dirt, God creates both animals and humanity.

So which of the two stories of creation in the Book of Genesis is the true one and which is fiction? Is Adam created with a divine snap of the finger when God tells His-self, "Let us Create man (meaning humanity) in our Image and Likeness? "Male and female he created them." Or did God create the heavens, the fish, the birds of the air, and all plant life and then created Adam out of wet clay he formed with his own hands? In this Sunday’s Genesis narrative, God has already created Adam out of the clay of the water-softened earth, shaping him in a body we recognize as a man. Then God breathed into this lump of clay’s nostrils what we call the breath of life. Then God, being God and thus totally perceptive, noticed that Adam was lonely. In his loneliness, surrounded as he was with magnificent beauty and abundant life, Adam was clinically sad. Perhaps we could say he was deeply depressed. God gave Adam power over all the living things. So why was Adam so sad and despondent? God allowed Adam to name each species and type of living being. This indicated Adam had power over these living beings. When we know enough about something or someone to be able to name them, it indicates we have at least intellectual power and control over them. Try this on your children. We give our children names at birth. But as they grow and achieve individual personalities we rename them. The name we give them reflects what that child is to us – Sweetheart, Bub, Pumpkin, Pal, Princess, Skeeter, Toodle Bug, or whatever. These new names are names of affection or of derision and insult. When we need to capture the child’s attention we shout their first given name with intensity and quickly gain their undivided attention. So Adam could call each living being by its name and so relate to that living being. The story continues, however, saying this control was not adequate to soften Adam’s loneliness.

For Adam there is none like him to whom he can relate with his innermost person. There is no one he can call his partner, his sweetheart, his soul-mate, his lover, his wife. In this most ancient Genesis story God puts Adam to sleep. Adam is not consciously a part of what is about to happen. He is no longer the namer. The woman formed is different from man but absolutely a part of man as this person is flesh of his flesh, bone of his bone. How much more intimate and connected can one person be to another. It’s so very much like the relationship of a mother to her child, a relationship of nurture, of security, of growth, of intimacy beyond any other. Eve and Adam are created and recreated in a relationship of equal partnership. This relationship, this intimacy is so strong that this woman and this man are no longer two but become one.

If we give this story a broader perspective than just two persons, we should quickly come to realize that this two becoming one is in truth a revelation of what the "image and likeness of God" means to us. The Trinity is three persons so intimately united as to be one God. So two man and woman become one being – two persons so united as to become one flesh as Genesis tells us. That is a revelation of the Creator’s image and likeness.

It is not man who creates woman. This is not a story of hierarchy or domination of male over female. This is no revelation of a created relationship of master and servant. Just as in the other Genesis story of the creation of humanity this is a revelation of God’s creative and wonderful diversity. God’s fingerprints are all over creation. This creation story is a story of the revelation of what God is. God, the God of the Hebrews and of Christians, is the God of unity and dignity, of respect and partnership.

In our gospel this Sunday the Pharisees set a trap for Jesus using the law about divorce. Their question of divorce presumes that women are mere things, possessions that a father hands over to a man, a husband for his use and purposes. The Pharisees see women as property, possessions of the husband. Infidelity on the part of the woman is a violation of the property rights of the husband by the wife. Infidelity on the part of the husband is not thought of in that way but only as a violation of the property rights of the woman’s husband. This story points out that the Pharisees do not think of women as persons, a being with her own dignity and worthy and rights. The point of Jesus’ teaching is that woman is equal to man and is worthy of dignity and respect.

Most of us more senior persons recall from American history when women got the right to vote. What a fight that was. What terrible things came out of the mouths of men in their efforts to justify their conviction that women are less than men! Women had been considered too hysterical to make judgments about candidates or to understand issues facing society. Many of us recall and some know how women have been viewed by males including churchmen. When Rosy the Riveter stepped up and worked in factories during the Big War, we were amazed a woman could weld, shape, and form aircraft, tanks, and firearms. Most were amazed to witness women ferrying B 24’s over the Atlantic. Minds were completely shaken when it became known that women had the intellectual skills and discipline to engineer necessary components for a war-machine.

But even after women’s work during the war there was a common slogan that "woman’s place is in the home." The way to control a wife was to "keep her barefoot in the winter and pregnant in summer." The so-called feminist movement was ridiculed and reviled by the powerful. Gradually women were allowed to move out of elementary education and into roles of full professors in universities. They started their own companies. Many women who entered public and business life found themselves demeaned by abuse of their gender. Especially in the past few years, sexual harassment is becoming understood as a vile and disgusting violation of the dignity and worth of a person. Even so, there are many who think of the wonder of womanhood as God’s creation of them as playthings. Some among the powerful publically abuse this unique and wonderful creation of God as lacking in necessary talent and skill for meaningful contribution to our social, economic, and religious well-being. Even at this late time in history, there are many among churchmen who consider womanhood and marriage as God’s cure for man’s passion.

The readings this Sunday give the lie to such thinking. God’s revelation of the wonder of gender diversity and his abiding presence among us should cause us to rethink our basic attitudes and to correct them. Woman is the equal of man and completes him. Man is the equal of woman and completes her. There are many assumptions that demand reform. There is much work for us. There is much for which we are called on to search out God’s will to understand his creation and to respect it, to wonder at it, and to rejoice at God’s wisdom creative presence.

This week-end there will be some who think the Genesis story is about creationism in opposition to evolution. The Genesis narrative about creation is not about creationism nor does it refute Darwin’s hypothesis of how species come to be and how all species are interrelated. God does as God is. When we think we can impose our theories on God’s presence and his continual creativity we are being silly children who fear monsters under our beds and shadows cast by light and darkness. When we are like the Pharisees we have a terrible and demanding need for repentance. Pharisees create for themselves structures of reality in which they assume control and judge dignity and worth by self-serving theories. The truth of God’s creation is not in them and they are to be pitied for their lack of faith and respect for God’s creative hand.

Our need for self-examination is about how we view other persons. Do we prioritize them by reason of gender, of race, of national origin, of language, of social status, or intelligence? Do we avoid seeing others as "images and likenesses of God" because it serves our desires and a need for superiority? Do we support persons in business, in government, or in church matters and give them a pass for their failure to respect the dignity and worth of every person? There is much repentance needed in our society and in each of us. There is a "turn-around" necessary if we are to accept God as our Creator. There are blinders we’ve put on that prevent us from rejoicing in all of God’s creative work. So long as we cling to those blinders we will find ourselves alone. And in our loneliness we seek that which can satisfy only temporarily. Those satisfactions are the Way of the World. They are called power, wealth, and fame. Are not those the three temptations with which the evil one tempted Jesus at the beginning of his ministry?

There is repentance necessary if we are to accept God as our Father. A loving Father cares about each and every one of his children. As his children we respect his fatherhood and his creativity when we extend to each person and to every element of His creation the dignity and respect with which they were created. That is why divorce, harassment, abuse, violence, and untruth are sins. That behavior cultivates evil and harms God’s creation.

Let us listen closely to the ancient stories. Those are the stories of human experience of the universe understood in the light of the life giving Spirit. Those stories uncover the meaning and purpose of God’s creation. It is our future. Let’s embrace it.

Carol & Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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TOGETHER FOR LIFE: 27TH SUNDAY B

When you and I were babies we needed others to survive. When we grow old and weak we will again need others to survive. But here’s a secret! In between, we need others too.

God says to us in the poetic story we hear today in our First Reading about the relationship between man and woman: ‘It is not good that the man should be alone’ (Genesis 2:18). God means, surely, being permanently alone. While it’s sometimes necessary and valuable to be alone and content with our own company, this can be only for the time being. We are social beings, and we need others to be fulfilled and complete. To feel this need is not a sign of sickness but of health. Insanity, on the other hand, has been defined as a condition in which people can no longer connect with others.

The most dangerous lion is not the gregarious one, or the one that roars the loudest, but the silent one who walks and stalks alone. Psychopaths and serial killers nearly always turn out to be lonely, angry individuals.

Isolation is a very painful condition. It causes people to turn in on themselves. Sometimes it leads to violence and to addictions to alcohol, drugs, or sex. Then fear, shame and guilt lead people to stay in their isolation. Persons who commit suicide are often people who have slipped into total isolation.

A survey was carried out among elderly people in America. When asked who was closest to them, two out of three said it was their pet dog or cat. How sad is that? In our poetic story today, God first gives animals and birds to the man. But Adam is unable to find among them a truly suitable companion.

Next, in this same symbolic story God gives a woman to the man. As soon as Adam lays eyes on Eve he’s gobsmacked at the sight. Instantly he recognises her as his life partner - made of flesh and blood too, sharing the same human dignity, truly his companion and equal. (True communion and community happen only among equals, but never when one dominates the other).

In marriage God has answered the human need for friendship, companionship, closeness, intimacy and warmth – what humans pine for but don’t always experience. To some extent such needs may also be met by belonging to other types of community – to a community of religious women or men e.g. Those persons with a particularly close relationship with God report that they never feel totally isolated and alone.

All of us are more or less wounded by selfishness. When people get married they bring to it not only their strengths but also their weaknesses. Getting married is entering a learning situation, a school of love, but one where the partners can sometimes be slow learners. But when a couple lets God become a big part of their partnership, their bond can last a lifetime.

What are the things that weaken the marriage bond? Lack of respect, poor communication, selfishness, jealousy, anger, nastiness, insults, aggression, abuse, violence, bullying, and above all infidelity! On the other hand, respect, affection, openness, honesty, generosity, patience, kindness, empathy and fidelity, strengthen the marriage bond.

Just like a garden, relationships suffer from neglect. The have to be constantly worked at. If people are experiencing difficulties in their marriage they should not be afraid to seek help. Relationships which have weathered some storms are sometimes the deepest and strongest. The quality of the relationship between the couple is so important that it must be put far ahead of a career, material gain and financial success. This is illustrated by pictures in the paper now and then of a couple with their arms around each other, while behind them their house is burning down, and saying to each other words like these: ‘Well, after all, we’ve still got each other, haven’t we?’

‘What God has united,’ Jesus says, ‘let no one separate’ (Mk 10:9) This makes much sense both for the lifelong personal needs of the couple and for the lifelong needs of their children.

Togetherness for life certainly remains the ideal both for Jesus and his followers. But our Church community has to face the fact that many marriages break down, and some of the victims of a broken marriage feel a deep longing for a new life partner and a brand new start. But this raises an acute question for the Church community: Can there be only point-blank black and white refusals? Or does our sharing in the compassion, caring and kindness of Jesus point to the possibility of reaching some truly creative pastoral solution? But there are no easy answers to this dilemma. So, let’s think, pray, and talk about it! A lot!

"Brian Gleeson CP" <bgleesoncp@gmail.com>

 

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Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections, and insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the preaching you hear. Send them to preacherexchange@att.net.  Deadline is Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email Address.

-- Fr. John


 

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