Scripture reflection: He gave them his blessing

23 September 2021

Let us pray to be blessed with the same compassionate spirit of Jesus. 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B, 3 October 2021

Lectionary readings
First reading: Genesis 2:18-24
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 127(128)
Second reading: Hebrews 2:9-11
Gospel: Mark 10:2-16
Link to readings

The scriptures this Sunday teach us about the importance and centrality of loving relationships to the expression of our faith. The excerpt from Genesis (First Reading) begins our salvation story with a vision of humanity in harmonious relationship with nature. We are formed of the same elements as the earth we live upon and share with creation. Women and men are helpmates for each other and tasked with caring for God’s creation.

The song of the Lord’s blessings upon us in the Psalm uses images of abundance to describe God’s relationship with creation. The theology outlined in the Second Reading reveals the solidarity and compassion of the Lord with the world and humanity by sharing with us in suffering, death, and in leading us towards Resurrection.

The Gospel contrasts two different aspects of human nature. The Pharisees attempt to exert authority and power over Jesus by testing his understanding of contested aspects of the law. Jesus responds by reminding them that the law was only given to them because they had lost touch with the essential truth of loving relationship at the heart of creation. His response to them and subsequent welcoming of little children is a stark challenge to the patriarchy of the time to respect both women and children as equals to men in God’s eyes.

Let us pray that we will be blessed with the same compassionate spirit of Jesus to build a more just society that urgently focuses on restoring our harmony with nature.

PSALM 127 (128)
R./ May the Lord bless us all the days of our life.
O blessed are those who fear the Lord
and walk in his ways!
By the labour of your hands you shall eat.
You will be happy and prosper.

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
in the heart of your house;
Your children like shoots of the olive,
around your table.

Indeed thus shall be blessed
the one who fears the Lord.
May the Lord bless you from Zion
in a happy Jerusalem
all the days of your life!
May you see your children’s children.
On Israel, peace!

REFLECTION
I slowly allow my mind and body to settle by following the rhythm of my breath. I gently let go of any bodily tension and worrying thoughts. When I am ready, I prayerfully read the words of the psalm, repeating the response after each verse.

Remembering that I am called to return to the loving embrace of God, it may help to deepen my prayer if I replace the words fear the Lord with love the Lord. What do I notice when I pray with the psalm in this way?

If there are particular phrases or words that challenge or comfort me, I stay with them and share with the Lord why this is important to me. In what ways am I called to express my love for the Lord?

How might I walk in his ways, and what will help me to deepen my love for God, creation and my fellow human beings? I close my prayer by slowly repeating the response of the psalm several times, whilst bringing to mind the needs of my family and friends, my community, and the needs of our suffering world.

‘May the Lord bless us all the days of our life.’

GOSPEL
Mark 10: 2–16
Some Pharisees approached Jesus and asked, ‘Is it against the Law for a man to divorce his wife?’ They were testing him.

He answered them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ ‘Moses allowed us,’ they said, ‘to draw up a writ of dismissal and so to divorce.’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘It was because you were so unteachable that he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female. This is why a man must leave father and mother and the two become one body. They are no longer two, therefore, but one body. So what God has united, no one must divide.’ […]

People were bringing little children to him, for him to touch them. The disciples turned them away, but when Jesus saw this he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. I tell you solemnly, anyone who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ Then he put his arms around them, laid his hands on them and gave them his blessing.

REFLECTION
Once I feel settled to pray, I slowly read the Gospel text. I recall the truth at the heart of this Sunday’s readings: that we were created in love, for love. Jesus came among us not to condemn, but to heal and transform our suffering.

I use my imagination to explore the contrast in the interactions between the adults and the children in this Gospel. I ponder how Jesus deals with each of them. What does this teach me?

Perhaps I picture myself as one of the children coming to Jesus. What is it about him that makes me want to be with him? Would I feel the same way about approaching one of the Pharisees or elders?

As I imagine being held within the accepting and comforting arms of Jesus, I place before him all my needs, desires and questions. I sit, I remain, I listen, and when I am ready I finish my prayer with my own words of thanks.

Note: It may help, when reading this Gospel, to know that in Jesus’s time, the Law of Moses concerning divorce was being interpreted to allow a man to divorce his wife for quite trivial reasons, perhaps leaving her destitute without support. Jesus invokes an older tradition that made women and men equal in marriage, thus showing his support of women, and disapproval of their abuse.

Prepared by St Beuno’s Outreach in the Diocese of Wrexham