Twenty Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time Gen. 2:18-24; Ps. 128: 1-6; Heb. 2:9-11;Mk. 10:2-16
“The Reign of God belongs to such as these”
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus engages with two very different groups, the Pharisees, who try to trick him into denying the law of Moses, and the disciples who object to him spending time with children.
When the Pharisees asked Jesus their question about the legality of divorce, they already knew the answer. Divorce was permitted by Mosaic Law. They just wanted to provoke Jesus into saying something they could use against Him.
Jesus replied to the Pharisees’ question with one of his own, “What did Moses command you?”. When they answered, He rebuked them for their hardness of heart and quoted from today’s first reading from Genesis as it images marriage, “The two shall become one flesh”. In doing this, Jesus emphasized the divine intent that humans were not meant to be alone but were created to be faithful to one another .
In his conversation with the Pharisees, Jesus preached fidelity, equality, and community, ideas foreign to their way of thinking but concepts integral to the Reign of God. In Jesus’ time, and even now in many cultures, women had no rights. They were considered property to be given from a father to a husband. Men were free to divorce their wives for very little reason often just because they were tired of them. A woman, on the other hand, was not able to file for divorce. After a divorce, the woman would be sent out into a world where she would be alone unless she had a family to take her in.
God’s Reign would not be like that. It would foster inclusion. Both women and men would have equal rights and no writ of divorce from a dissatisfied spouse would break the marriage bond.
In the gospel, Mark follows the discussion on divorce by expanding on the Reign of God. He describes a situation in which parents were bringing their children to Jesus for a blessing and were being rebuked for doing so by the disciples.
In Jesus’ culture, children, like women, had no rights. Conscious of this, the disciples were probably determined that Jesus should maintain his dignity, and perhaps theirs as well, by not associating with children. All that their rebuke did was result in a reprimand from Jesus. The Reign of God belonged to such little ones and anyone who could not accept the gift of God like a child, would never experience the presence of God.
As Christians, we are called to welcome the gift of God’ s presence and enable others to experience it so that the Reign of God may be realized. The Christian songwriter, Brian Doerksen invites us to do that in his song, “It’s Time for the Reign of God”.
“It’s time for the reign of God, It’s time for your light to shine, It’s time for the Kingdom of our God to be revealed.
In these days of war and famine, In these days when hearts grow cold, In these days of growing darkness, There’s a story to be told.
It’s time for the reign of God, It’s time for your light to shine, It’s time for the Kingdom of our God to be revealed”
At this time of such deep division and separation among people, will you take some time to reflect on what you can do to shine some light in the darkness of our world so that the promise of the Reign of God might be fulfilled?
Sr. Michaela Connolly, OP