Welcome Back to Banquet of the Word!
Join us every week for background on this Sunday readings.
Our mission is simple:
We want to help everyone in “pew-land” get more out of mass.
(The 1st Reading is Old Testament. It always links to the Gospel.)
Relationship is core to scripture. In fact, the entire bible is the story of how God relates to His people, His chosen people. Within that enormous, long, centuries-spanning story, there are three key relationship themes that are woven throughout. Today’s 1st reading concerns #3, Man and Woman:
- God the Father speaks often of His beloved “Bride” – the people of Israel.
- Jesus Christ (male) and His “Bride” the Church.
- The Groom (male) and His Bride (female). Or “Man” and “Woman”
Women were created from the rib of man to be beside him, not from his head to top him, nor from his feet to be trampled by him, but from under his arm to be protected by him, near to his heart to be loved by him:
So the LORD God cast a deep sleep on the man,
and while he was asleep,
he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.
The LORD God then built up into a woman the rib
that he had taken from the man.
When he brought her to the man, the man said:
“This one, at last, is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
this one shall be called ‘woman, ‘
for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.”
That is why a man leaves his father and mother
and clings to his wife,
and the two of them become one flesh.
Today, honor your spouse. Pray for your spouse.
Thank God for the gift of your spouse.
Psalm 128: May the Lord bless us all the days of our lives.
(The Psalm is a “response” to what we heard in the 1st Reading)
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
in the recesses of your home;
your children like olive plants
around your table.
(The 2nd reading is usually from Paul’s letters. Speaks to how the early church was built after Christ’s death and resurrection).
The author of letter to the Hebrews is unknown. It is beautiful though, and stylistically it reads more like a homily, as it lacks the typical greeting and closing prayer consistently found in Paul’s letters. It’s theme? The Priesthood of Jesus Christ. (In this letter we hear and often sing, “You are a priest forever, in the line of Melchizadek.”)
The insight today is that although Christ is our High Priest – God Himself – He was made ‘lower than angels’ for a time. Whereas Adam chose to taste the forbidden fruit and thus subject us all to spiritual and physical death, Christ reverses that act. Though perfect and divine, he suffers and dies for our sakes, to forgive our sins, and to re-open the door to Heaven.
He “for a little while” was made “lower than the angels, ”
that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
For it was fitting that he,
for whom and through whom all things exist,
in bringing many children to glory,
should make the leader to their salvation perfect through suffering.
He who consecrates and those who are being consecrated
all have one origin.
Therefore, he is not ashamed to call them “brothers.”
(The Gospel is the highest point of the Liturgy of the Word. That’s why we stand.
We are about to hear from and be instructed by Christ Himself.)
Today’s gospel unmistakably ties to the first reading, where man and woman come together as one flesh (in marriage). The Pharisees try to trick Jesus; they try to throw him a curveball. What happens if man and woman want to divide – divorce?
But Jesus isn’t tricked. We do need to understand the Old Law though, in order to understand Jesus’s response. Moses did permit divorce under the Old Covenant. This was a temporary legal concession tailored to their weaknesses. It was Plan B. It was for their “hardness of heart.” Jesus – the great High Priest and Supreme Judge – now revokes that law by returning to God’s original intention for every married couple: lifelong monogamy.
Interestingly, other allowances were made in the Deuteronomic covenant that would make you gasp, such as genocidal warfare (Deut 20:16-17), the profane slaughtering of animals (Deut 12: 15-24), and yes, divorce (Deut 24: 1-4).
We also hear the well-known verse, “Let the children come to me.” Jesus definitely means children as in “youth,” but he also speaks a greater purpose here – that he wants us all to come to him with a childlike mindset. That is, we ought to always be a child to Jesus and see ourselves as one, whether we are 22 or 92. He is Our Father, we His children. We are to sit at His feet. Learn from Our Father. Obey and follow His Way, His Wisdom.
How are we like a child to Jesus right now? How can we humble ourselves before Him this week and be formed by Him, conform to His will for our lives? How can we carry out His desire for our marriages, if we are in one?
May God bless your week!
The Pharisees approached Jesus and asked,
“Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?”
They were testing him.
He said to them in reply, “What did Moses command you?”
“Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce
and dismiss her.”
But Jesus told them,
“Because of the hardness of your hearts
he wrote you this commandment.
But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.
For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother
and be joined to his wife,
and the two shall become one flesh.
So they are no longer two but one flesh.
Therefore what God has joined together,
no human being must separate.”
In the house the disciples again questioned Jesus about this.
He said to them,
“Whoever divorces his wife and marries another
commits adultery against her;
and if she divorces her husband and marries another,
she commits adultery.”
And people were bringing children to him that he might touch them,
but the disciples rebuked them.
When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them,
“Let the children come to me;
do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to
such as these.
Amen, I say to you,
whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child
will not enter it.”
Then he embraced them and blessed them,
placing his hands on them.