27th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle B
Let us pray…
In the presence of a God whose word has called the earth and the stars into
ALL: We stand in awe.
In the presence of a God whose arms have held children,
ALL: We stand in trust.
In the presence of a God whose breath has stirred within us and caused our
hearts to thirst for justice;
ALL: We stand in need.
Before you, Giver of Life, we come in faith, in search of love and justice and
ALL: Be with us, hear us, we pray. AMEN
1st Reading – Genesis 2: 18-24:
When you read Genesis, you will notice there are actually 2 creation stories side by side.
Theologians have determined that this is because there are 2 sources, one being Yahwist (J)
and the other Priestly (P). This creation story is by Yahwist, which is an earlier and more
“earthy” source. These creation stories in Genesis are not intended to be read as scientific
documents about the beginning of things. They are etiological stories written to help us ponder
and understand basic truths about humans and creation. How does this story speak to you
about humanity and creation?
“The story of the rib is etiological. It is intended to answer the question of why the man leaves
his parents and marries a woman. ‘It is because man and woman share a common humanity
and are complementary to each other, and therefore neither is complete without the other.’ In
the Hebrew mind-set ‘one flesh’ means far more than physical union. It involves the totality of
the person in contrast to God – the goodness and the flaws. Flesh includes the physical and the
spiritual totality of human nature,” (W&W, Birmingham, 667).
2nd Reading – Hebrews 2: 9-11:
From Preaching Resources, Oct. 2006:
The author (and even the audience) is unknown for this ‘letter.’ It is not even really a letter, and
there is much discussion over exactly what type of writing it is – a sermon? an exhortation? a
treatise? But it contains a message that continues to be of great importance and truth. It tells of
a God who is not at a distance from his creation, but “a God who has been speaking, arguing,
pleading, wooing, commanding and generally spinning words across the lines between heaven
and earth since the beginning of time.” These messages from God are like a great musical
overture that reached its crescendo in Jesus Christ. Jesus who is God’s ultimate Word became
one of us – even to the point of death. Here in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection we can hear
the salvation that God intended for sinners fully and hopefully with great thanksgiving.
Hebrews is part of the early Church’s effort to understand Christ as
both human and divine. Preceding this reading, Psalms 8 is quoted
that angels are ‘rulers over the new world to come’ (Workbook for
Lectors, 249). But Christ made himself lower than the angels for a
little while…so he could taste death like everyone does. Christ wants
to be one with us. As Paul said in his letter to the Philippians about
Christ: “although He existed in the form of God, did not regard
equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant,
“ (2:6-7). In Hebrews and Philippians, the intent was for the hearers of the message to place
their trust in Christ. Does it make you want to place more trust in Him?
The Gospel -- Mark (10: 2-16):
How has God’s grace (God’s love, God’s very life) been present for you in a child – a spouse, a
parent, a friend? Maybe this is more about our ‘hard-hearts’ than about divorce. What do you
think? In the church there is room for everyone. As church we still need to proclaim the ideal of
holiness of marriage, because it comes from Christ and his wisdom; it builds up the human
family. But Christ calls all of us into a love relationship with God and with others. Due to human
weakness we all fall short in one way or another. This only means we need Christ more; we
need to alleviate the pain of broken relationships whenever and wherever we can, (Footprints on
the Mountain, Roland Foley, 649). We must be like children, open, vulnerable and trusting.
Jesus is being asked his opinion on a very hotly debated issue of his day: the grounds
for divorce. The words in Deuteronomy (24; 1-40) say that a man can divorce a woman for
‘some indecency’ which, of course, could mean many things. Some conservatives of Jesus’ day
said a man could only divorce a woman for adultery. Others said that divorce was all right if a
woman was a poor cook, if she spoke to strangers, if she gossiped about her husband’s family,
or simply if he found another woman more attractive. Women, for the most part, had no right to
divorce, at all, in Jesus’ time and culture. Women in the Roman/Greek culture, however, could
divorce, that is why Mark’s gospel refers to this in vs. 12.
Divorce at this time was also more than just a separation of two partners; it was a
separation of families. God had chosen one’s parents it was believed. Then, the parents chose
the marriage partners for their sons and daughters. In that sense then, God chose – God,
through the chosen parents, had joined them together. Thus, “what God had joined together, let
no one separate.”
Divorce then brought great shame not only to the woman, but also to her family – in
particular to the males of that family. This shame would often be a cause for feuding.
Bloodshed was a common result from such a ‘separation’. (J. Pilch, Cultural World of Jesus,
Cycle B; Preaching Resources, Oct. 2006)
A word of warning and compassion: This passage can be a cause of great pain and resentment
for those who have suffered because of a union that was far from the ideal. “Without detracting
anything from the sacredness of the gift of marriage, those who have suffered as a result of their
unions should be shown respect, understanding and encouragement. Support for them in their
struggle should be the order of the day in a community that is meant to be a home to all.” Just
as physical nourishment is needed for one to grow strong, so spiritual nourishment is also
needed and should not be withheld. This is the nourishment of friendship and the sacrament of
Christ’s presence. Everyone needs God’s strength and his grace of forgiveness daily. This is
an important for all, whether married or unmarried.
(Preaching Resources, Oct. 2006)