Wednesday, September 29, 2021

27th Sunday of Ordinary Time homily notes

     While not an official feast or solemnity on the regular liturgical calendar, the first Sunday in October has been recognized by the American Catholic Bishops as “Respect Life Sunday” since 1972. Since that time, many Catholic groups across the country have found ways to cultivate a culture of life in our families and communities. Today’s Mass readings complement that theme by giving us some core Bible passages that undergird why respecting life and the family is so critical to our Christian witness.

     In the reading from Genesis, we hear the later part of the creation story where the first man and woman are created and joined together. While most people are familiar with the basic Adam and Eve story, the original meanings behind the names are often lost. The name for Eve derives from the Hebrew word that means “life,” for she was the mother of all living people. The name Adam is, likewise, not just the name of the first human but is also the name of all of humanity. The word Adam derives from the Hebrew word which means “earth” or “dirt” but is also related to another word which means “similar.” From this we get understandings that Adam was both similar to the earth from which he was created but was also made in the likeness and image of his Creator.

    These same creation themes play through the Epistle to the Hebrews because the unknown author is discussing the uniqueness of the person of Jesus. Because Jesus was both fully human and fully divine, He was both priest and victim. Only Jesus could have bridged the separation from the Divine that was created by the sin of Adam by virtue of being the perfect sacrifice of both a son of Adam and the Son of God. 

    Likewise, Jesus in today’s Gospel reading from Mark is being questioned on what constitutes a lawful divorce. Instead of being dragged into legal maneuverings, Jesus clearly restates the Divine plan for marriage as it was intended to be in the Garden of Eden: that marriage creates new life. The new life is not just in the form of future children, but marriage is itself a new life of sorts for the married couple as well. They are no longer two individual people but an entirely new and living family unit that is unique and blessed by God.  

    All of the readings today point in some way to the necessity of respecting human life because God created human life in His own image and gave humanity dignity from the beginning of time as part of His divine plan. Let us give thanks this Respect Life Sunday that God instilled humanity with such dignity that He allowed His only Son to become human for our sake.


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