TWENTY SEVENTH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
The Sunday Scriptures
Some Pharisees wish to find out on which side of the debate on the grounds for divorce Jesus stands. But Jesus rises above the debate by quoting from Genesis and re-iterating God’s original plan of unity. The second pericope following this about being childlike, though completely separate, is yet another reminder to the disciples of the humility demanded of discipleship (Mk 10:2-16). Despite the different traditions and dates of composition of various component parts, Genesis 1:1-11:26 – the Primaeval History – needs to be understood as a whole – the story of God’s creation and the disorder created by human disobedience to God’s plan. The second creation account (Genesis 2:4b-24) betrays an ancient origin and uses stories common to other ancient Near Eastern texts. It describes God in anthropomorphic terms creating Adam (an earth creature) from adamah (the earth), and after the creation of the animals, the division of Adam into ish (man) and issha (woman). Like many of the stories of Genesis, this is aetiological (a story that gives the origin of something) – here the explanation of the attraction and the unity of male and female. We begin today reading extracts from the Letter to the Hebrews which has two major themes. The first is announced today – Jesus through suffering is now higher than the angels (Hebrews 2:9-11).
Gaudium et Spes Part II: Chapter 1 The Dignity of Marriage and the Family (47-52) 
Part II of Gaudium et Spes is entitled ‘Some more urgent problems’ and examines five of them. The first (Chapter 1) is about Marriage and the Family. The Constitution clearly shows the basis of Scripture that is needed to promote this but also reflects the reality of life. ‘This happy picture of dignity of these partnerships is not reflected everywhere, but is overshadowed by polygamy, the plague of divorce, so-called free love and similar blemishes; furthermore, married love is too often dishonoured by selfishness, hedonism and unlawful contraceptive practices. (47) The remedies to these are given by a traditional understanding of marriage and ‘the fostering of marriage and the family’ is seen to be a duty for all. ‘The family constitutes the basis of society…everyone, therefore, who exercises an influence in the community and social groups should devote himself or herself effectively to the welfare of marriage and the family.’ (52)
Summary: a major thread of the Scriptures is family life with the vision that the union of husband and wife, God’s plan for humanity, mirrors the unending love of God for his people. However, the Scriptures also witness to the pain of divorce and family divisions. Gaudium et Spes acknowledges such divisions but clearly promotes marriage and family life and urges all to recognise its fundamental role in society.
Points for reflection
- How do we help promote the dignity of marriage and family life?
- What measures do we take to try to help those who have had painful marriages, separations and divorces?
- In what ways do we as a community help those preparing for marriage?