October 3, 2021: Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Catholic Social Teaching: Care for God’s Creation
As we reflect on individual actions contributing to the degradation of creation at the conclusion of the Season of Creation and move into living the Laudato Si Action Plan:
The mystery of sin is composed of a twofold wound, which the sinner opens in his own side and in the relationship with his neighbour. That is why we can speak of personal and social sin. Every sin is personal under a certain aspect; under another, every sin is social, insofar as and because it also has social consequences. In its true sense, sin is always an act of the person, because it is the free act of an individual person and not properly speaking of a group or community. The character of social sin can unquestionably be ascribed to every sin, taking into account the fact that “by virtue of human solidarity which is as mysterious and intangible as it is real and concrete, each individual’s sin in some way affects others”. It is not, however, legitimate or acceptable to understand social sin in a way that, more or less consciously, leads to a weakening or the virtual cancellation of the personal component by admitting only social guilt and responsibility. At the bottom of every situation of sin there is always the individual who sins. (217) Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church
First Reading: Genesis 2:18-24
Psalm: 128: 1-2, 3, 4-5, 6
Second Reading: Hebrews 2:9-11
Gospel: Mark 10: 2-16
Catechism of the Catholic Church
The love of the spouses requires, of its very nature, the unity and indissolubility of the spouses’ community of persons, which embraces their entire life: “so they are no longer two, but one flesh.”153 They “are called to grow continually in their communion through day-to-day fidelity to their marriage promise of total mutual self-giving.”154 This human communion is confirmed, purified, and completed by communion in Jesus Christ, given through the sacrament of Matrimony. It is deepened by lives of the common faith and by the Eucharist received together. (1644) From the Daily Roman Missal, Introduction to the Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:
Genesis 2:18 and 2:24
The importance and centrality of the family with regard to the person and society is repeatedly underlined by Sacred Scripture. “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Gen 2:18). From the texts that narrate the creation of man (cf. Gen 1:26-28, 2:7-24) there emerges how — in God’s plan — the couple constitutes “the first form of communion between persons”. Eve is created like Adam as the one who, in her otherness, completes him (cf. Gen 2:18) in order to form with him “one flesh” (Gen 2:24; cf. Mt 19:5-6). At the same time, both are involved in the work of procreation, which makes them co-workers with the Creator: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Gen 1:28). The family is presented, in the Creator’s plan, as “the primary place of ‘humanization’ for the person and society” and the “cradle of life and love”. (209)
With this specific vocation to life, man and woman find themselves also in the presence of all the other creatures. They can and are obliged to put them at their own service and to enjoy them, but their dominion over the world requires the exercise of responsibility, it is not a freedom of arbitrary and selfish exploitation. All of creation in fact has value and is “good” (cf. Gen 1:4,10,12,18,21,25) in the sight of God, who is its author. Man must discover and respect its value. This is a marvellous challenge to his intellect, which should lift him up as on wings towards the contemplation of the truth of all God’s creatures, that is, the contemplation of what God sees as good in them. The Book of Genesis teaches that human dominion over the world consists in naming things (cf. Gen 2:19-20). In giving things their names, man must recognize them for what they are and establish with each of them a relationship of responsibility. (113)
Genesis 2:20 and 2:23
The relationship between God and man is reflected in the relational and social dimension of human nature. Man, in fact, is not a solitary being, but “a social being, and unless he relates himself to others he can neither live nor develop his potential”. In this regard the fact that God created human beings as man and woman (cf. Gen 1:27) is significant: “How very significant is the dissatisfaction which marks man’s life in Eden as long as his sole point of reference is the world of plants and animals (cf. Gen 2:20). Only the appearance of the woman, a being who is flesh of his flesh and bone of his bones (cf. Gen 2:23), and in whom the spirit of God the Creator is also alive, can satisfy the need for interpersonal dialogue, so vital for human existence. In one’s neighbour, whether man or woman, there is a reflection of God himself, the definitive goal and fulfillment of every person”. (110)
Genesis 2:20 and 2:23
The human person is essentially a social being because God, who created humanity, willed it so. Human nature, in fact, reveals itself as a nature of a being who responds to his own needs. This is based on a relational subjectivity, that is, in the manner of a free and responsible being who recognizes the necessity of integrating himself in cooperation with his fellow human beings, and who is capable of communion with them on the level of knowledge and love. “A society is a group of persons bound together organically by a principle of unity that goes beyond each one of them. As an assembly that is at once visible and spiritual, a society endures through time: it gathers up the past and prepares for the future”.
It is therefore necessary to stress that community life is a natural characteristic that distinguishes man from the rest of earthly creatures. Social activity carries in itself a particular sign of man and of humanity that of a person at work within a community of persons: this is the sign that determines man’s interior traits and in a sense constitutes his very nature. This relational characteristic takes on, in the light of faith, a more profound and enduring meaning. Made in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gen 1:26), and made visible in the universe in order to live in society (cf. Gen 2:20,23) and exercise dominion over the earth (cf. Gen 1:26,28- 30), the human person is for this reason called from the very beginning to life in society: “God did not create man as a ‘solitary being’ but wished him to be a ‘social being’. Social life therefore is not exterior to man: he can only grow and realize his vocation in relation with others”(149)
By Christ’s institution, the baptized live the inherent human reality of marriage in the supernatural form of a sacrament, a sign and instrument of grace. The theme of the marriage covenant, as the meaningful expression of the communion of love between God and men and as the symbolic key to understanding the different stages of the great covenant between God and his people, is found throughout salvation history. At the centre of the revelation of the divine plan of love is the gift that God makes to humanity in his Son, Jesus Christ, “the Bridegroom who loves and gives himself as the Saviour of humanity, uniting it to himself as his body. He reveals the original truth of marriage, the truth of the ‘beginning’ (cf. Gen 2:24; Mt 19:5), and, freeing man from his hardness of heart, he makes man capable of realizing this truth in its entirety”. It is in the spousal love of Christ for the Church, which shows its fullness in the offering made on the cross that the sacramentality of marriage originates. The grace of this sacrament conforms the love of the spouses to the love of Christ for the Church. Marriage, as a sacrament, is a covenant in love between a man and a woman. (219)
Genesis 2:24 and Mark 10:5
The characteristic traits of marriage are: totality, by which the spouses give themselves to each other mutually in every aspect of their person, physical and spiritual; unity which makes them “one flesh” (Gen 2:24); indissolubility and fidelity which the definitive mutual giving of self requires; the fruitfulness to which this naturally opens itself. God’s wise plan for marriage — a plan accessible to human reason notwithstanding the difficulties arising from “hardness of heart” (cf. Mt 19:8; Mk 10:5) — cannot be evaluated exclusively in light of the de facto behaviour and concrete situations that are at divergence with it. A radical denial of God’s original plan is found in polygamy, “because it is contrary to the equal personal dignity of men and women who in matrimony give themselves with a love that is total and therefore unique and exclusive”. (217)
The promise of peace that runs through the entire Old Testament finds its fulfilment in the very person of Jesus. Peace, in fact, is the messianic attribute par excellence, in which all other beneficial effects of salvation are included. The Hebrew word “shalom” expresses this fullness of meaning in its etymological sense of “completeness” (cf. Is 9:5ff; Mic 5:1-4). The kingdom of the Messiah is precisely the kingdom of peace (cf. Job 25:2; Ps 29:11; 37:11; 72:3,7; 85:9,11; 119:165; 125:5, 128:6; 147:14; Song 8:10; Is 26:3,12; 32:17f.; 52:7; 54:10; 57:19; 60:17; 66:12; Hag 2:9; Zech 9:10; et al.). Jesus “is our peace” (Eph 2:14). He has broken down the dividing wall of hostility among people, reconciling them with God (cf. Eph 2:14-16). This is the very effective simplicity with which Saint Paul indicates the radical motivation spurring Christians to undertake a life and a mission of peace.
On the eve of his death, Jesus speaks of his loving relation with the Father and the unifying power that this love bestows upon his disciples. It is a farewell discourse which reveals the profound meaning of his life and can be considered a summary of all his teaching. The gift of peace is the seal on his spiritual testament: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you” (Jn 14:27). The words of the Risen Lord will not be any different; every time that he meets his disciples they receive from him the greeting and gift of peace: “Peace be with you” (Lk 24:36; Jn 20:19,21,26). (491)
A beatitude of blessing hovers in the realm of those in awe of the Lord. The peace in knowing we are one with God and all creation. Hardness of heart divorces people from this relationship. Not a public act with civil consequences, but a simple decree of personal origins to dismiss association, the companionship God offered in communion with His mosaic tapestry of vibrance and vitality filling the inanimate space with life. Animals with feet traversing the ground and birds riding the currents in the sky. While God desired an ideal relationship, so humanity would not seek to separate themselves and break bonds of interconnectedness with creation, men and women divorcing themselves from the oneness of creation provokes an act of eco-adultery in marrying their desires to the falsity of consumerism crafted to perpetuate the god of capitalism. The line where legal right stares at the reality of moral responsibility. Far removed from the powerlessness of a child who welcomes the Lord’s blessings and touch of grace, essential attributes to enter the Kingdom of God, here in God’s creation and our eternal destiny. A renunciation of power, the dismissal of status, but in respect giving name to each element of creation. The building blocks of biodiversity, where each has a name for their inherent dignity in the interconnectedness of life. A name not an erasable element deleted at the whim of human stewards. We are all partners in the quest to live into God’s desire for our ideal relationship with all His creation. Our human frailties, struggles, roadblocks from systems in place decades or centuries before our existence may stifle pursuit of the ideal, but we must not let such hinderances cause us to divorce ourselves from striving towards the ideal God invites us to live in. For to try and improve our relationships to all creation, we must live in the power of both creation stories. The transcendent, infinite God beyond time and space and the intimate God seeking our partnership, asking for our stewardship and making present to us His gifts of creation. Gifts we can chose to name in love and reverence, with malleable hearts of tenderness or profane in degrading, exploitation, like spoiled children never happy with what they have. Chapter 10 in the Gospel of Mark reverts to Chapter 2 in Genesis, a restoration of the Garden now situated straddling culture and thought of Hebrew and Roman influence. Religious leaders asking questions. Civil and religious laws creating new decision making matrix in accessing moral and societal norms, but the reality reverts to the pliability of people’s hearts. Jesus calls out hardness of hearts in the Pharisees legalistic condemnation for His doing good by healing on the Sabbath. He called out the disciples’ hardness of hearts for their lack of faith, unbelief in the miracle of the loaves, simple bread broken for all to be fed. To not divorce ourselves from living in the interconnectedness with God of Divine proportions and all HIs creation, we must not let our hearts be hardened by legalistic rigidity and a lack of faith to walk in His ways, not ours. A process we must imbue in our lives and radiate to all our partners in caring for creation and not make use of puns* leveraged from antiquity to today for the purpose of dominance, silencing voices and diminish God given gifts. The path to the ideal essence of respect, nurturing creation is not a dead end journey labeled as sin, with just one detour from the idealized pursuit, but a continuing progression of understanding, the willingness to magnify our acuity, focus our thoughts to see more clearly links of connectivity, partnership and communion with our Creator’s continually unfolding creation.
Individual Reflection: Mark 10: 2-16
October 7th is feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. Pray the rosary this week meditating on the mysteries to respect creation and care for it as a gift of God: https://catholicclimatemovement.global/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Rosary-Meditations-Care4Creation-Month.pdf https://www.zitlaudatosi.cz/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/C4C-Guided-Rosary.pdf https://www.olaireland.ie/spirituality/ecological-missionary-rosary-laudato-si-week/
Family Reflection: Psalm: 128: 1-2, 3, 4-5, 6
Conclude the Season of Creation on the Feast of St Francis, October 4th, with the family spending an hour using the program “Eco-Conversion: Called to Tend to a Flourishing Garden of Life”, comprised of readings, reflections, prayers and video components to start a conversation on living the Laudato Si Action Platform: https://catholicclimatecovenant.org/program/feast-st-francis
Prayer: Prayers from Laudato Si in music videos https://www.laudatosi.org/pope-francis/a-prayer-for-the-earth/
Blogs to Visit:
As we reflect upon Mary’s presence in the mysteries of the Rosary, we are blessed to know her. For her journey, a timeless trek, calls us to surrender, continuing conversion, humbleness and justice now.
Weekly lectionary reflections, for faith sharing groups, parish bulletins, newsletters or personal prayer, from the synergy of the Word we hear and the rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching.
Catholic Social Teaching offers seven principles for upholding life in our thoughts, decisions and actions.
How we do Catholic Social Teaching.
Creation sustainability ministry resources in the spirit of the St Francis Pledge.
Social Ministry Resources Engaging Parishes: Monthly and liturgical seasons resources for use with parish websites, bulletins and newsletters
List one or two upcoming events, legislative action alerts or social justice websites
By Barb Born September 26, 2021 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.