|10/3/2012 12:21:00 PM|
We have promises to keep
Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012
|Mary Jo Tully|
Chancellor, Archdiocese of Portland
Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mark 10:2-16 or 10:2-12
Most people who make promises intend to keep them. We begin our lives in any life-changing relationship with the intention that the relationship — marriage, priesthood, religious life — is forever. But we are humans — flawed and sinful and some of those relationships fail. When they do, no one is more hurt than we.
When some of my priest friends read today’s Gospel, they cringe and then opt to speak about “Let the little children come to me.” I was tempted to take the same road because divorce is a difficult and painful topic. All of us know individuals who have suffered because of it. Then, I thought about the larger issues that concern all of us. In a sense, today’s Gospel is about all failures we find in the relationships that are rooted in baptism.
The sacrament of marriage places special emphasis on this faith connection: relationships that are ongoing and permanent expressions of the uniqueness of the individual and the unity of those who are one in the Lord.
“What God has joined together, no human being must separate.” Marriage is the most visible sign of the unity to which all of us are called. It builds on baptism and calls for both unity and diversity. It challenges the individual to use his/her own unique talents for the good of the community and the growth of the people of God. As the married couple opens its arms to welcome children into a loving family, the baptized community welcomes the children of faith.
“…whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” But, becoming childlike is more difficult than it might seem. Children enter this world accepting of all who reach out to them. Their interactions with others teach them to reject those who are different. It is only from us that they learn intolerance.
At each Eucharist, Christians proclaim that they are different from one another but united in their belief in the Risen Lord. This is not difficult within the celebrative atmosphere of Holy Mass. It is difficult in the larger society.
No one ever leaves the Church because God has rejected or betrayed them. The unity of the Church is largely in our hands. We are those called to be the community that embraces others.
Unity is a proclamation that ought to be made in every situation. We are a diverse community with many different opinions, different strengths, and different flaws. We are challenged at this Eucharist to build the Body of Christ, to reach out to those who feel alienated and estranged, to heal and to reconcile.