4 October 2015: Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary time

Reading 1 Response Reading 2 Gospel
Gn 2:18-24 Ps 128:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6 Heb 2:9-11 Mk 10:2-16

Daily discipleship: love in a fallen world

Between the Easter season and Advent, the Lectionary presents RCIA participants and all the believing community with stories and teachings from Jesus’ everyday ministry. This week we hear Jesus teach about the daily challenges of discipleship.

The first reading from Genesis is a story about origins. It explains where men and women come from, why they are attracted to each other, and how and why society is structured as it is. The Lectionary editors chose this story because Jesus quotes this passage in today’s gospel.

The second reading is from the Letter to the Hebrews, a complex work that assumes its hearers are well-versed in Hebrew scripture. Today’s reading introduces Jesus as redeemer. Jesus became human (“made lower than the angels”) to redeem humankind (“taste death for everyone”). Jesus is now exalted, having been “perfected through suffering.” Jesus (“he who consecrates”) and we the redeemed (“those who are being consecrated”) have “one origin.” Because Jesus shared our humanity, we are siblings to Jesus, who is “not afraid to call [us] ‘brothers.'”

Mark’s gospel begins a new chapter (Mk 10). In this chapter Jesus’ teachings shift to practical discipleship issues: marriage, raising children, running a business. Jesus now directs his teachings to the crowds, not just his disciples. Today we hear two stories: a teaching on marriage and teaching on the kingdom. Both teachings are about practical discipleship:

  • Marriage teaching: Jesus presents an image of marriage before Adam and Eve turn against God. We can understand this to mean that God’s original intent (“one flesh”) is the standard for all relationships. Because Jesus has destroyed sin, we no longer need the Mosaic divorce exception. Jesus establishes the kingdom of God, in which all humanity is restored to its God-created state. Jesus holds disciples–those “on the way” to the kingdom of God–to a higher standard: “What God has joined (literally “glued”) no human can unjoin.” God joins a husband and wife into one flesh; in this equality and oneness, both the husband and wife have a mutual responsibility to lifelong fidelity.
  • Kingdom teaching: Jesus shows that discipleship–and access to the kingdom–is not based on abilities, social achievement, public behavior, or status. Jesus tells the disciples that “the kingdom of God belongs to the least ones:” slaves, non-persons, children. Jesus’ embrace of children is a parable-in-action: this is God welcoming all simple, trusting, and humble sons and daughters into a relationship, which is the beginning of God’s kingdom.

RCIA participants–and the entire believing community–continuously seek to understand what Jesus asks of us as disciples. All Jesus’ discipleship teachings revolve around love: love of God and love for the Other. The daily challenge of human relationships–family, spouses, friends, coworkers, teachers, students, caregivers–presents opportunities to live out God’s design for human love. In a fallen world filled with imperfect people we learn the meaning of “taking up the cross.” How we live our day-to-day discipleship prepares us for God’s kingdom. How does our love for imperfect others reflect our love for God?

—Terence Sherlock

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