Come whatever and no matter our age or state of life this Sunday’s readings have both a rich and fundamental message for every Christian disciple and member of the Church. Last week’s reflection might have been somewhat depressing or repugnant to a few but this Sunday we are provided with encouragement, hope as well as the living example of Jesus himself.

The Lord’s example, as well as the purpose, is brilliantly summarised by the author of our NEW TESTAMENT READING [HEBREWS 2: 9 – 11]. There we are told to “see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels … because of the suffering … so that … he might taste death for everyone. … it was fitting that he … in bringing many … to glory … should (be) the pioneer of their salvation. … For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified have all one origin.” {make a special note of the underlined words which appear at the start and end the quotation.}

All too often it is forgotten that we all share the same origin as Jesus of Nazareth. I have no doubt that over emphasis of Christ’s divinity somehow or other diminish the importance of his humanity. We cannot have one without the other. As said last week we are in a time of crisis in the Church of God. This is not only about sexual abuses. In the lives of many it has also, in varying degrees of intensity, produced a crisis of faith. In addition it has engendered in some a certain sense of cynicism.

Our OLD TESTAMENT READING [GENESIS 2: 18 – 24] provides us with an essential starting point as we all become involved in the rebuilding and strengthening of the Church we love and serve. Geneses’ description of the creation of the woman must be seen and understood in relation with its earlier story [1: 27 & 28] of God “making” both male and female. He made them together at the same time in one single CREATIVE action. Gender equality begins right here. We are all of one flesh. However, in today’s reading the illustration of the rib being taken from the man is not intended to teach women’s lesser status to man but, rather to affirm their togetherness within and for God’s plan for HIS world. This is why abuse of any description is such a profound evil – neither man nor woman is there to be used.

At the same time we must not miss the fact that both these creative actions of our Christian God emphasise that the Lord God shared something of his divinity with man and woman – every single human being has a real and essential divine element as an integral part of their humanity. So here we are faced with the danger of diminishing (lessening and minimising) our humanity by failing to accept and take ownership of the divine within us – and within each single individual. We are all sanctified in our common origin – and this origin is with God-in-Christ.

Now we are able to easily see and recognise the test (which was really a trap) set for Jesus by Pharisees in TODAY’S GOSPEL [MARK 10: 2 – 16]. They were starting from the wrong premise – the presumption that a man had the inalienable right “to put her away.” Jesus starts with the basic truth that “GOD made them male and female.” He also refers to their own “hardness of heart.” In passing we could also comment that what “God has joined together” includes the divine element in both. This is what we must all strive to ensure is never “put asunder.”

However, Jesus’ lesson goes much further and deeper when he introduces children into the equation. At the time Jesus was speaking, children’s rights were predominantly in the hands of the father, the man. This is well illustrated by the fact that when children were being brought into personal interaction with the Lord “the disciples rebuked them.” Why was Jesus indignant? The answer is simple. Children also enjoy the divine element in their humanity.

So we are now able to posit the fact that the being a mother or a father is not nearly as important as being a PARENT. This word is linked to the language roots of ‘bringing forth’ – not abusing or destroying. We are ALL called to parent – to bring forth, develop and protect both the divine and human elements in each and every person with whom we are involved, in ourselves and in the Church.

This is achieved when we are constantly aware of our divine origin which continues in our humanity {as TODAY’S PSALM (128 OR 129) tells us} as “as the Lord (blesses) us all the days of our lives.”

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