{a correction: the Biblical Translation in our new Lectionary is not, as was previously asserted, the NEW REVISED STANDARD VERSION – but the older translation of the REVISED STANDARD VERSION.I am not sure (although I have a suspicion!) of the reason why the contemporary version was not selected as the newer translation is far superior. However, the original version remains good.}

{INFORMATION: I have heard suggestions regarding the Type Font used and its size. I hope the changes meet with general approval? Please, always, feel free to offer suggestions for improvement.}

This week let us anchor our reflection in the closing verses of THE NEW TESTAMENT EXTRACT [HEBREWS 2: 9 – 11].

“For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified have all one origin. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brethren.”

In addition, let us read this assertion against the earlier verse of the same extract which proclaims that “he might taste death for everyone.” (it is against this fact that I have a real problem with the new translation of the formula for the Consecration of the Wine at Mass … did Jesus Christ die for many or for all?)

Our anchor verse establishes male and female as equal in origin. If this origin is of – and from – God, then men and women are equal in value and importance: and no one of them is superior to the other. Jesus Christ, the Lord, neverfavours one against the other, and the common origin does not establish one as dominant. Women are by no means merely baby-makers. If they are, then so are men! We have actually arrived at a period of history in which we must all look way beyond biological functions in order to access the worth and value of people. Incidentally, if we do not, then we actually hold to the impoverished view that a spinster or bachelor is somehow or other a lesser human being and person.

Yes, indeed, as TODAY’S PSALM [128 or 127] informs us, wives (and husbands for that matter) are called to be the heart and centre of the home, and children should become a joy “around the table.” However, what about the husband and wife who are childless through no fault of their own? Are they any less husband or wife? Then, what about gay or lesbian persons – does the Lord love them less? Is he ashamed to call them brethren? Are all of these not sanctified by their one origin? Let us not stop here and avoid questioning our approach and attitude to divorced men and women. Some marriages fail for a wide variety of reasons – and most of these are not sinful ones.

We must strenuously avoid categorising people, putting them into boxes, and applying blanket solutions which are far too often condemnatory.

Our OLD TESTAMENT READING [GENESIS 2: 18 – 24] sets out the ideal, and Jesus himself clearly endorses this. Yet, throughout the Gospel the Lord reaches out in realistic terms to those who fall short. We too, as well as the Church, need to do the same.

There should be no doubt that marriage is directed to the calling (vocation) of achieving a union of minds and hearts between two living persons absolutely equal in status and honour. The notion that a woman’s place is actually reserved to being barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen is degrading, if not blasphemous?

It is said that marriages are made in Heaven! TRUE – because “what therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” Yet, the mere fact that a marriage ceremony has taken place does not in any way prove that this particular marriage has been ‘joined’ by God. It is interesting that the law of the Church actually states that the fact of a marriage ceremony cannot be used to prove its validity.

Many marriages fail to achieve the ideal. We have to be honest and realistic in this matter. What does the Gospel offer those who suffer as a result – surely something much more than relegation to being second class members of the Church? The Lord remains unashamed to call them brothers and sisters.

Taking the moral high ground when we are not involved or experienced contributes little, if anything, to the Good News.