October 4, 2015: Twenty-seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time
Catholic Social Teaching: Call to Family, Community and Participation
The person is not only sacred but also social. How we organize our society—in economics and politics, in law and policy—directly affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in community. Marriage and the family are the central social institutions that must be supported and strengthened, not undermined. We believe people have a right and a duty to participate in society, seeking together the common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable.
Themes from Catholic Social Teaching, USCCB
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.” They “are called to grow continually in their communion through day-to-day fidelity to their marriage promise of total mutual self-giving. “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 Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle B
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:
Genesis 2:18 and 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 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. Gen2:23), 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 fulfilment of every person”. (110)
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)
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 (491)
1st John 4:11-12 (Gospel Acclamation)
Meditating on the gratuitousness and superabundance of the Father’s divine gift of the Son, which Jesus taught and bore witness to by giving his life for us, the Apostle John grasps its profound meaning and its most logical consequence. “Beloved, if God so loves us, we also ought to love one another. No man has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us” (1 Jn 4:11-12). The reciprocity of love is required by the commandment that Jesus describes as “new” and as “his”: “that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (Jn 13:34). The commandment of mutual love shows how to live in Christ the Trinitarian life within the Church, the Body of Christ, and how to transform history until it reaches its fulfilment in the heavenly Jerusalem. (32)
Mark 10:5 and Genesis 2:24
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)
We live our lives in the context of multiple families. Our families of birth that may have nurtured us for life, taught us love, gave us roots and wings or left us broken by discord, wounded by harshness and searching for meaning. We have families of our friends, a collective group of like-minded individuals addressing a common purpose with camaraderie. Some may have families formed in the sacrament of commitment with a life-long bond of fidelity and mutual unity. We have our families of faith united in belief and service. And we are all part of the human family related but never seeing or personally knowing billions of the members.
The membership of the various families we belong to overlap, sometimes creating conflict while often offering support. Many times, we are not ashamed to call members of our various families sisters and brothers with respect and trust. Other times relationships challenge and fracture our family bonds. Jesus calls us to accept the kingdom of God like a child. Children learn hate, prejudice, discrimination and superiority. So to enter into God’s kingdom now and for eternity, we must shed learned attitudes and values that judge and divide our various families. Living as families, we must realize not everyone will be exactly like us, have the same passions, but seek to live in our families complementing one another with our various God given gifts. It is as we look at the multiple type fonts on our computer, some bold, some petite, some creative, some diminutive, some accenting, across a gamut of sizes. Yet each type font spells the same words, conveys the same inherent root meaning in a variety of ways. With this perspective, may we view the members of our families, our sisters and brothers collaborating on affirming the goodness in each other, supporting each other, working not for our self-interests, but the common good to support the vitality of our families.
Individual Reflection: Mark 10:2-16
Contemplate how you need to be more child-like (not childish!) What learn attitudes do you need to shed? How will you shed them?
Family Reflection: Hebrews 2:9-11
October 4th is the memorial of St Francis of Assisi. He is the patron saint of the environment. Have the family discuss five ways they will take better care of creation. Invite five other families to join you in those initiatives.
Prayer: Collect for Twenty-seventh week in ordinary time
Almighty ever living God, who in the abundance of your kindness surpass the merits and desires of those who entreat you, pour out your mercy upon us to pardon what conscience dreads and to give what prayer does not dare to act. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen
Blogs to Visit:
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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.
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How we do Catholic Social Teaching.
Creation sustainability ministry resources in the spirit of the St Francis Pledge.
List one or two upcoming events, legislative action alerts or social justice websites
By Barb Born, October 1, 2015 St Therese pray for us The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.