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September 30, 2009
Breaking Open the Word
By James Cavanagh
Oct. 4: 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Overview: This week’s readings draw our attention to the importance of marriage in God’s plan of salvation. In our first reading we hear about the creation of Eve. As soon as Adam sees her he exclaims: “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh!” He recognizes at once a person like himself. Adam lived in paradise and enjoyed the company of many animals, but he was alone for there was no “suitable partner” for him. He had the companionship of other creatures, but he could not have communion with any of them. Adam needed someone like himself, yet different; complementary, not identical: someone who could receive the sincere gift of himself and return that gift by giving herself freely and completely. But the “original unity” that existed between our first parents was lost when Adam and Eve sinned. In the fullness of time God sent his only-begotten Son who, according to our second reading, “was made lower than the angels, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” By the sincere gift of himself on the cross, Christ destroyed sin and broke down “the dividing wall of hostility … so that he might create in himself a new man in place of the two” (Eph 2:14-15). In this week’s Gospel Christ is challenged by, of all people, the religious leaders who sought to justify divorce. The practice was “legal” but, as Christ reminds them, it was not part of God’s plan in the beginning.
Key verse: “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh!” (Gen 2:23)
“Catechism of the Catholic Church”: “In his preaching Jesus unequivocally taught the original meaning of the union of man and woman as the Creator willed it from the beginning. By coming to restore the original order of creation disturbed by sin, he himself gives the strength and grace to live marriage in the new dimension of the Reign of God” (Nos. 1614-1615).
Pope Benedict XVI: “None of us gave ourselves life or single-handedly learned how to live. All of us received from others both life itself and its basic truths, and we have been called to attain perfection in relationship and loving communion with others. The family, founded on indissoluble marriage between a man and a woman, is the expression of this relational, filial and communal aspect of life” (Homily, July 9, 2006).
Application: The original order of creation was restored by Christ when he poured himself out on the cross. One of the first “fruits” of this restored order is holy matrimony, which Christ raised to the dignity of a sacrament. Marriage is more than a mere social convention; it is a divine institution and a sign of God’s kingdom on earth through which he is restoring the original order of creation.