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27th Sunday of Year B

OUR SUNDAY VISITOR
OUR SUNDAY VISITOR

Key Points to the Readings

FIRST READING

Genesis 2:18-24

I will make a partner for him.

  • The creation story in Genesis 2 portrays God as searching for an equal partner for the human.
  • Only a creature that shares the same flesh will be a fitting partner.
  • The union between man and woman is so central that they long to reunite in the one flesh they share.
SOURCES: Content adapted from Our Sunday Visitor.  The clipart is from the archive of Father Richard Lonsdale © 2000 which may be freely reproduced in any non-profit publication.

SECOND READING

Hebrews 2:9-11

They are all brothers.

  • In Jesus we see the true nature of God.
  • Today’s second reading points out that Jesus accepted death for the sake of all.
  • Jesus is the perfect leader because he shared in our weakness and suffering.
SOURCES: Content adapted from Our Sunday Visitor.  The clipart is from the archive of Father Richard Lonsdale © 2000 which may be freely reproduced in any non-profit publication.

GOSPEL

Mark 10:2-16

Let the children come to me.

  • In response to the Pharisees question about divorce, Jesus compares the passage in Deuteronomy, which is simply a concession to human weakness, to the creation story in Genesis, which emphasizes the indissolubility of marriage.
  • Jesus presents the ideal of the marriage bond to stress the truth that in him, sin has no power in the world.
  • In the final passage of today’s Gospel, Jesus proclaims that the kingdom belongs to those who receive it as children.
SOURCES: Content adapted from Our Sunday Visitor.  The clipart is from the archive of Father Richard Lonsdale © 2000 which may be freely reproduced in any non-profit publication.

DR. KIERAN J. O’MAHONY, OSA


HEARERS OF THE WORD – Video commentary presented by Kieran J. O’Mahony, OSA. — Download PDF

DR. BRANT PITRE

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SUNDAY COMMENTARY (PDF)

SOURCE: Bible study program at St. Charles Borromeo (Picayune, MS) courtesy of Military Archdiocese.
Niell Donavan

Sermon Writer

27th Sunday of Year B

Unbreakable Fidelity

HIDE/SHOW OVERVIEW

Fidelity is one of the hallmarks of true love. The First Reading tells us that God sanctified fidelity in marriage between one man and one woman. In the institution of marriage, a man and a woman become God’s partners in perpetuating humanity, and in the Sacrament of Matrimony, man and woman become “one flesh” (Gen 2:23Mt 19:5Mk 10:7). “Flesh” in the Bible can mean the whole person; therefore, to become “one flesh” refers to more than the physical union. It also indicates the total oneness of two persons, the “fruit” of which is children.

The Responsorial Psalm reminds us of the importance of the spiritually healthy practice of fearing to offend God. Scripture tells us that “fear of the Lord” is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom (Prov 1:7a9:10a). We offer Him a reverent fear and respect because of His sovereignty over humanity and His goodness and justice. The acknowledgment of God’s supreme authority over us and the reverence we owe Him is the foundation of true religion. As Christians, we demonstrate love and fidelity to God through obedience to His commandments in all our pursuits (1 Jn 2:3-6). In return, God rewards us by blessing us in our human relationships, especially in marriage and families.

The Second Reading begins the first of seven Sundays when we read from the New Testament Letter to the Hebrews. The inspired writer (which most Fathers of the Church identified as St. Paul) gave what was probably a sermon addressed to the Jewish-Christian assembly in Jerusalem that was copied and distributed as a letter to other Christian faith communities. The inspired writer wanted Jewish-Christians to understand why Jesus established a new covenant and for them to grow in the fidelity of unity with Gentile-Christians. In today’s passage, he describes what Jesus did for all Christians by submitting Himself to “taste death” on a Roman cross for the cause of our eternal salvation. He consecrated Christians in His Blood and united them as brothers/sisters in the family of God as, throughout the generations, they continue to “taste” the gift of His life in the Eucharist.

The First Reading and the Psalm prepare us for the Gospel Reading. The Responsorial Psalm pictures the ideal marriage as God intended with a man and his wife becoming a lifetime blessing for each other and to the fruit of their union, their children. In the Gospel Reading, Jesus defines marital union as God intended when He instituted it by officiating at the marriage of Adam and Eve, and He defines divorce as a violation of divine order. Jesus’s address on marriage continues with a teaching on the fruit of marriage, which is children, as He commands that children must be allowed to come to Him. Children are precious to God, and Jesus uses children as a metaphor for the attitude Christians should have in their relationship of humility, fidelity, trust, and love with God, their heavenly Father.


FIRST READING

AGAPE STUDY

The Origin of the Institution of Marriage

God Judges Something “NOT Good”

For the first time in the Genesis narrative, in verse 18, God judges something “not good” (lo tov in Hebrew); whereas in the prologue, every aspect of the Creation event was “good” and the seventh day as “very good” (Gen 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25 and 31). What God judged as “not good” (verse 1) was that man should be alone. God formed the animals from the dust of the earth, as He formed man (Gen 2:7, 19), but God did not animate those creatures with His breath/spirit. The difference between the souls of the animals and the soul of man is that man possesses an immortal soul from the very breath of God (Gen 2:7).


Charism of God’s Holy Spirit

Numbers 11:17-29 repeats the word ruah, meaning “wind,” “breath,” or “spirit,” five times (1725262931), referring to the charism of God’s Holy Spirit. Five is the symbolic number signifying power and grace in Scripture (see the document “The Significance of Numbers in Scripture.”

When God put His Spirit upon the elders, they only uttered prophesy once, not in the sense of foretelling but speaking in enraptured enthusiasm (see 1 Sam 10:10ff; 19:20ff; Acts 2:6, 11, 17; 19:6; 1 Cor 12-14). The elders received an initial anointing of the Spirit of God and the gift of enraptured utterance to show the people they were divinely appointed.


Creation of Man

Notice that the sequence differs from Genesis 1:24-27. The prologue account in Genesis Chapter 1 is not in conflict with Genesis 2:7 and 19. Chapter 1 is a summary, and the added details in Chapter 2 suggest that the creation of man and the beasts may not be chronological, but the creation of man and the beasts was probably simultaneous. God is not limited as we are in our works; the chronological unfolding of time is a condition in which man lives. Since God created man out of the same matter as the animals, no one can claim that man’s creation was in any way divine; God did not create Adam as a man-god. Man’s immortal soul, a gift of the breath/spirit of God (Gen 2:7), animates him, and his adoption as a divine son through his covenant relationship with God infuses him with grace and makes him a partaker in the divine life of the Most Holy Trinity.


No Suitable Partners for Man

19b and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them; whatever the man called each of them would be its name.

God paraded the animals before Adam as he named each of them. Thus, God blessed Adam with stewardship over the creatures of the earth (Gen 1:27-30), and in naming the animals, Adam was asserting his dominion over them.

20b but none proved to be the suitable partner for the man.

God intended to provide a “helper” in the gift of a “suitable” companion for man. God knew that there was no suitable “helper” equal to man among the animals. However, viewing each animal with its mate, Adam needed to realize that an animal was not a “suitable” companion for him, and he was not complete without his female counterpart.

The word translated as “suitable” in verse 20 is in Hebrew negdo, a term more literally rendered as “equal and adequate” (Genesis, Waltke, page 88)God made men and women uniquely different in their sexuality, but He created them both in His image and likeness to be equal as human persons. Their shared vocation was to serve God, subdue the earth and its creatures, and perpetuate humanity. Adam’s realization that he needed a partner (after naming the animals) prepared him to receive and appreciate his gift of the virgin bride who, as a resident of the garden Sanctuary, God obligated him to guard and protect (see Gen 2:15-17; CCC 369 and 371-373).


Creation of Woman

22 The LORD God then built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from the man.

In verses 21-25, God made the man fall into a deep sleep and created his partner. In describing the creation of the woman from Adam’s rib, Genesis 2:22 does not use the word “create,” bara, nor does the text employ the word “made,” asah (Gen 1:7, 16, 25, 31; 2:2, 3, 4). Instead, in the Hebrew text, God “built” the woman from Adam’s rib. In Hebrew, this word is banah. It is the same Hebrew word used to describe the building of altars of sacrifice and incense for Yahweh, and also the Temple in Jerusalem (i.e., Gen 12:7-8; 13:18; 22:9; 26:25; Ex 17:15; 24:4; etc.; 1 Kg 2:26; 3:2; 5:19/5; 8:17-19, 20; etc.).

Commenting on the unusual selection of this word, St. Augustine (354-430) saw the “building” up of Eve from the body of Adam as prefiguring Christ’s unity with the Church as part of His Body. Augustine wrote: “Built is the very word the Scripture uses in connection with Eve: ‘He built the rib into a woman.’ So too does St. Paul speak of ‘building up the body of Christ,’ which is his Church. Therefore, woman is as much the creation of God as man is. If she was made from the man, this was to show her oneness with him; and if she was made in the way she was, this was to prefigure the oneness of Christ and the Church” (City of God, 22.17; with references to Ephesians 4:12 and 5:32).

St. Jerome (c. 347-420) also recognized the prefiguring of Christ and His Church in the Genesis 2:22 passage: “‘God took a rib from the side of Adam and made it into a woman.’  Here Scripture said ‘built.’ The concept of building intends to denote the construction of a great house; consequently, Adam’s rib fashioned into a woman signifies, by apostolic authority, Christ and the Church” (Homilies 66).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church addresses the unique link between the creation of Adam’s bride, brought to life from his side, and the Bride of Christ, the Church, brought into being from the pierced side of the Savior. Quoting Lumen gentium 3 and Sacrosanctum concilium 5, the Catechism teaches: “The Church is born primarily of Christ’s total self-giving for our salvation, anticipated in the institution of the Eucharist and fulfilled on the cross. ‘The origin and growth of the Church are symbolized by the blood and water which flowed from the open side of the crucified Jesus.’ ‘For it was from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death upon the cross that there came forth the wondrous sacrament of the whole Church.’ As Eve was formed from the sleeping Adam’s side, so the Church was born from the pierced heart of Christ hanging dead on the cross” (CCC 766).

23 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.”  24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one flesh.

In verses 23-24, Adam immediately comprehended in God’s gift that she was not only like him, but she was also part of him. He recognized that he was incomplete without her, and he gave her the title, “out of man,” the meaning of the word “woman.” Later, he named her “Eve” (mother of all the living) in Genesis 3:23. Thus, in the presentation of the gift of the virgin bride to Adam as his partner in life, God has instituted marriage and defined it as a spiritual and physical union between one man and one woman.

In Jesus’s teaching about the Sacrament of Marriage in Matthew 19:3-6 and Mark 10:2-12 (in our Gospel Reading), He quoted from Genesis 2:24. Jesus said: 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” (Mk 10:6-9)God is the author of marriage, and any attempt to redefine the nature and institution of marriage is to act in opposition to the will of God.

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study. Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY

Blessed are Those who Fear the Lord

Response: May the Lord bless us all the days of our lives.

“Fear the Lord”

To “fear the LORD” (literally, “fear Yahweh”) in verse 1 is the spiritually healthy practice of fearing to offend God. The inspired writer of the Book of Proverbs wrote that fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom (Prov 1:7a9:10a), referring to reverent fear and respect for God because of His sovereignty over humanity and His goodness and justice. The acknowledgment of God’s supreme authority over us and the reverence we owe Him is the foundation of true religion, a word meaning “to tie, fasten, bind, or to gather up, treat with care” (Catholic Dictionary page 364). The practice of our religion is the tie that binds us in our covenant relationship with our God as we “walk in His ways” (verse 1b)


“Walk In His Ways”

We “walk in His ways” by keeping His commandments as an expression of our love and fidelity (1 Jn 2:3-6). The blessing in verses 2-4 is for happy family life and peace between parents and children. The reverence shown to God by following the obedience of faith will result in God’s blessings that will safeguard the covenant people as a whole and give each member the hope of a long life with the joy of living to see their children’s children (verses 5-6).

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study.Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.

SECOND READING

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY

Christ our Brother

The Phrase “Taste of Death”

In verse 9, the inspired writer states that the Son of God was, for a little while, made lower than the angels by becoming a man. Then, he reassures the faithful by saying that Jesus is now crowned with glory and honor because he submitted to death so that His experience of death could benefit all humanity by God’s grace. The phrase “taste of death” uses the primary verb geuomai (pronounced ghyoo’-om-ahee), meaning “to taste” and by implication “to eat” or figuratively as “to experience.” The Letter to the Hebrews introduced the concept of 2:9b in the exordium in Hebrews 1:1-14. In that passage, the inspired writer announced that the Son was exalted because He suffered death, and unlike the rule of an ordinary king, which ended with death, Jesus began His reign with His self-sacrificial death. Thus, it is Christ’s suffering and death that opens the path to glorification. This theme continues, and the inspired writer (believed by many to be Paul) develops it further in the next section of the letter.

In His mission to free humanity from the judgment man rightly deserved for sin, Jesus willingly tasted death from God’s “cup of wrath” (Is 51:17; 35:15-18; Jer 25:15-16; 51:7-8; Ez 23:32-34). Jesus uses similar imagery concerning His impending death in Matthew 26:39, Mark 14:36, Luke 22:42, and John 18:11. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed that God the Father might “let this cup pass me by,” meaning that He might not drink of the cup of God’s wrath, filled with the bitter “taste” of death. Yet, He submitted Himself to God’s will and prayed: “My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done!” (Mt 26:42).  In his commentary on Hebrews, St. John Chrysostom states that the use of this expression in Hebrews 2:9 is deliberate. He writes: “it is very precise. It does not say ‘that by the grace of God he might die,’ for the Lord once he tasted death delayed there only for a moment and immediately rose … All men fear death; therefore, to enable us to take death in our stride, he tasted death even though it was not necessary for him to do so” (Homilies on Hebrews, 4). In their writings, the Church Fathers have always linked the words “tasting death” in association with Jesus’s suffering as affirming that Jesus willingly accepted His Passion in atonement for the sins of humanity and that he accepted death without ceasing to be the Lord of life.

Jesus used the same Greek word in association with death in Matthew 16:28 when He said, “Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” (repeated in Mk 9:1 and Lk 9:27).  The same word appeared again in John 8:52-53 when the Pharisees challenged Jesus, saying, “Now we are sure that you are possessed. Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.’ Are you greater than our father Abraham who died?”

St. Thomas Aquinas wrote that using the imagery of “tasting death,” the inspired writer is referring to the Passion of the Christ in three ways:

  1. It refers to the cause of His death when the text says “by the grace of God,” meaning God willed His death as His plan to save humanity from eternal death.
  2. It refers to the usefulness of His death when the text says He died for the salvation of “everyone,” meaning all humanity.
  3. It refers to Christ as the willing author of our salvation because He willingly tasted death that we might not drink death eternally.

See Aquinas: Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, pages 62-63.

The Navarre scholars wrote: “Jesus did indeed, by the will of the Father, experience or ‘taste’ death.  His death is described as being like a bitter drink which he chose to take in sips as if savoring it” (Navarre Commentary on Hebrews, page 68). St. Paul wrote that Jesus “drank the cup of God’s wrath” for us so that He could free us from the penalty of eternal death and the wrath of God that is the price we deserve to pay for our sins (Col 2:13-14 and Phil 2:6-11). However, there is a cup that we drink and food that we taste that has the power to give us the courage to face death unafraid. We can bravely face death because we drink from the cup of Jesus’s precious Blood and taste the Bread from Heaven, which is His Body, in the Most Holy Eucharist, uniting us both physically and spiritually to the life of Jesus Christ. The Eucharist is our “food for the journey” to eternal life!


God the Father Glorified Jesus

10 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.

God the Father glorified Jesus because He willingly suffered and offered Himself as an unblemished sacrifice for the sins of humanity (1 Pt 1:18-19). His triumph over sin and death seals the redeeming value of His sacrificial death. This victory gave Jesus, in His humanity as the Son of man, and in His divinity as the Son of God, true dominion over the earth (as St. Paul declared quoting from Psalm 8:6 in Ephesians 1:19-23). What this means to us is what Paul wrote to the Christians at Philippi in Philippians 3:20-21, But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it, we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself. Jesus’s Resurrection and Ascension to glory is the anticipation of the future glory of God’s sons and daughters of the New Covenant (see CCC#1002-3).

The point of Hebrews 2:10 is that Jesus did not need to be made more perfect than He already was. However, by suffering and dying on the Roman cross to fulfill the will of God, Jesus became the one perfect Savior, consecrated through His obedient suffering. By being “perfect” as our unblemished sacrifice and heavenly High Priest, He can consecrate His people, making access to God possible by each of these two consecrations. He is then, by His suffering, responsible for the entry of human beings into the perfection of the glory of God. The literal verb “made perfect” is frequently used in the Letter to the Hebrews to denote the various effects of Christ’s work on the relationship between man and God (i.e., see Heb 5:9; 7:28; 10:1; 11:40; 12:23).


Jesus Not Ashamed to Call Us “Brothers”

11 He who consecrates and those who are being consecrated all have one origin.  Therefore, he is not ashamed to call them “brothers” …

Jesus can consecrate human beings because He has become one of us. We are His blood brothers and sisters, united as one family in the Blood Jesus shed on the holy Altar of the Cross and in His Body and Blood that we consume in the Eucharist.

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study. Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.

GOSPEL

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY

Jesus Teaches on Marriage and Divorce

Crowds of people continued to follow Jesus, receiving His gifts of healing while the Pharisees continued to challenge Him. The Pharisees approached Jesus again to “test” him, just as Satan had tested Jesus (Mt 4:1-11; Mk 1:12-13; Lk 4:1-13). But, as in the other times they tested Jesus, the purpose was not to learn His true identity but to show their superiority and discredit Him with the people (Mt 12:13; 16:1; Mk 8:11; Lk 11:52-53). Ironically, in their attempt to reveal to the people that His true identity was not the Messiah, they reveal their true identity as “children of Satan” who stand in opposition to God’s plan for humanity’s salvation.

The Pharisees approached and asked, “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?”  They were testing him.

They were hoping to maneuver Jesus to say something they could use against him. For example, suppose He rejected divorce for any reason. In that case, they could perhaps put Him in the same position as John the Baptist, whom Herod Antipas condemned to death for his criticism of Antipas’ and Herodias’ divorces from their spouses and their unlawful marriage (Mk 6:17-19). Or, if he approves of divorce without restrictions, they can accuse him of being like the heathen Gentiles.

He said to them in reply, “What did Moses command you?”  They replied, “Moses permitted him 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.”

In verse 3, the Pharisees are referring to the pronouncement Moses gave concerning divorce in Deuteronomy 24:1-4, in which he permitted a man to divorce his wife for reasons of “unfitness.”  The problem was, allowing divorce in cases of “unfitness” could be widely interpreted. Jesus knows that the Pharisees interpret the decree in Deuteronomy 24:1-4 as a commandment; therefore, He corrects them by telling them that it was not a command but a concession because of the “hard hearts” of the Israelite men. Jesus does not disclose in what ways the men of Israel demonstrated hard hearts when Moses permitted divorce, but it may be that Moses allowed divorce to prevent a much greater sin. For example, possibly men who did not want to support an elderly wife were taking matters into their own hands, and elderly wives were dying from “accidents.”

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.”

Jesus quotes two passages from the Book of Genesis in verses 6-9. The first is from Genesis 1:27, God made them male and female, and the second is from Genesis 2:24, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. Then Jesus defines marriage as God intended when He instituted marriage by officiating at the joining of Adam and Eve, saying: “So they are no longer two but one flesh.  Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”

Jesus has turned their test against them by quoting from Sacred Scripture and asking them if they did not know the passages from Genesis 1:27 and 2:24. He asks them if they are willing to dispute what God has commanded in those passages and interprets those verses to mean there can be no division/divorce when God has joined a couple in marriage. In His declaration, “what God has joined together, no human being [man] must separate,” Jesus unequivocally affirms the sacred nature and the indissolubility of the marriage covenant between one man and one woman. He also affirms God as both the Creator of man and woman and the author of the institution of marriage (see CCC 1614-16).

Notice in Jesus’s definition of marriage that He rejects all other forms of unions as not of God: polygamy, same-sex unions, incest, and free unions (co-habituating) cannot be defined as marriage and are offenses against the dignity of marriage (see CCC 16452357-592387-882390-912400).

10 In the house, the disciples again questioned him about this.  11 He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

The Old Covenant law already addressed cases of adultery for men and women, but the penalty for adultery wasn’t divorce; it was death (Lev 20:10). Jesus’s teaching on divorce was clear: divorcing a wife (unless the marriage was unlawful under the Holiness Code of Leviticus 18:6-18) and remarry another woman was the sin of adultery and a violation of the Ten Commandments (Ex 20:14; Dt 5:18).

In the Christian Church’s first council in Acts chapter 15, the Apostles instructed faith communities in their Apostolic decree to avoid unlawful marriage (Acts 15:19-20), referring to marriages that were deemed incestuous. However, in the Church’s power to “bind and loose” and “retain or forgive” (Mt 16:19; 18:18; Jn 20:22-23), Jesus has given the Church the authority to make decisions in such matters as in the annulment of marriages that never should have taken place because of fraud, deceit, or indecency (see CCC 16031610).

Mark 10:13-16 ~ Jesus and the Children

13 And people were bringing children to him that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them.  14 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.  15 Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.”  16 Then, he embraced them and blessed them, placing his hands on them.

It is fitting that Jesus’s pronouncement on children should follow immediately after His teaching on marriage. This event is the second time Jesus used a child as an example of faith, trust, and vulnerability. In Mark 9:36-37, He used a child in Peter’s household to symbolize faith and trust and instructed the disciples on their obligation to assist the lowly.

People were bringing their children to Jesus for Him to lay His hands upon them and give them His blessing. In trying to protect Jesus, perhaps so He could have more time to heal the seriously afflicted, the disciples were turning away parents who brought their healthy children to Jesus. Instead of protecting Him, they deeply offended Jesus. This episode is the only time in the Gospels where Jesus was described as “indignant,” using the Greek word aganakteo, a term indicating “outraged at an offense,” “moved with indignation” (IBGE, vol. IV, page 125; Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, page 3). The tender affection Jesus showed all children illustrates what an extraordinarily loving man He was during His earthly ministry.

In verse 14, Jesus made a surprising statement to His disciples concerning children when He told them no one must prevent children from coming to Him because the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like them. It is a statement that affirms the Church’s baptism of infants and children. He followed that statement by a definitive “Amen” in verse 15, saying that a child is the model disciple and whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it. Then, eight verses later in Mark 10:24, Jesus will call His disciples “children.” St. Paul wrote that everyone who comes to Christ in faith to receive the Sacrament of Baptism becomes a “child” in the family of God. As children, the baptized enter into Christ’s Kingdom without status or earthly ambitions. In their total dependence upon God, they exemplify not only the disposition that makes an entrance into the heavenly Kingdom possible but the desire to receive salvation as a pure and unmerited gift of God’s grace (see Rom 8:16-17; Gal 3:26-27 and CCC 1243-44).

16 Then, he embraced them and blessed them, placing his hands on them.

Jesus not only blessed the children by laying His hands on them, but He also embraced them in His loving affection. His actions demonstrate that to enter the Kingdom is to enter into a loving relationship with Jesus Christ, who is ready to bless and embrace God’s adopted human children.

Jesus commanded children must be allowed to come to Him (Mt 19:13-15; Mk 10:13-14; Lk 18:15-17). This command, together with references to the baptism of whole households (Acts 16:15; 33; 18:8), and children (including Jesus) entering the Sinai Covenant soon after birth (Lev 12:1-8; Lk 1:59; 2:21-24), formed the ancient Church’s doctrine of infant baptism (see Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 2.22.4 and Origen, Homilies on Leviticus, 8.3). Origen (185-254), Augustine (354-430), and other Church Fathers taught that infant baptism was a tradition received directly from the Apostles (Origen, Homilies on Romans, 5.9; Augustine, On Genesis, 10.23.39). And other Church Fathers considered it parental abuse to delay infant baptism, a Sacrament necessary for salvation (i.e., Saints Irenaeus, Basil, Gregory of Nyssa, Ambrose, John Chrysostom, Jerome, and Augustine).

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study. Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.

27th Sunday of Year B

REGINALD H. FULLER

Preaching the Lectionary

SCRIPTURE IN DEPTH:  The idea that piety and virtue are the foundations of family life is not obsolete.

READING 1: As the reader is doubtless aware, this passage comes from the J (Yahwist) story of creation. It is an earlier tradition than the P (Priestly) creation story in Gen 1. Whereas the P story pictures man and woman as the culmination of creation, the J story makes the same theological point by picturing them as its center.

READING II: Just as the Israelites wandered in the wilderness between their departure from Egypt and their entry into the Promised Land, so the Christian community exists “between the times,” between the Christ-event and the parousia.

GOSPEL: The long form of this Gospel comprises two pericopes—the first on divorce, the second on the blessing of children. A form-critical analysis would suggest that we have here part of an early catechism, built up of originally separate traditions about Jesus. A section on marriage would be followed immediately by a section on the family.

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SOURCE: The Sunday Website at Saint Louis University: This website is a service of the Catholic Studies Centre at Saint Louis University, Matthew Baugh, SJ, Director; John Foley, SJ, Editor; Eleonore Stump, Coordinator; JC McCollum, Webmaster

JOHN KAVANAUGH, SJ

The Two Shall Become One

THE WORD EMBODIED: What is it about us that wants to say “forever”? To say “eternally”? To say “till the end of time”?

Jesus was given a test by the Pharisees. It was a conundrum about eternal love and life. He asks them in return, somehow aware of their stubbornness, about the judgment of Moses, who permitted divorce. But Jesus digs down to the well of our hearts’ desires. “They are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore let no man separate what God has joined.” “Whoever divorces a wife and marries another commits adultery; and the woman who divorces her husband and marries another commits adultery.”

It seems so clear and fast and abrupt. It seems even cruel to some who hear it. And surely painful. But isn’t this always true with matters of love? Would any of us, bent on a life of covenant, settle for less?

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SOURCE: The Sunday Website at Saint Louis University: This website is a service of the Catholic Studies Centre at Saint Louis University, Matthew Baugh, SJ, Director; John Foley, SJ, Editor; Eleonore Stump, Coordinator; JC McCollum, Webmaster

JOHN J. PILCH

Marriage and Divorce in Jesus’ World

HISTORICAL CULTURAL CONTEXT:  Mark’s community is familiar with a situation in which the woman or woman’s family can initiate the divorce. This affront to the husband’s family is so shameful that it must necessarily result in feuding.

What then does it mean when Mark’s Jesus says, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her?” From the Mediterranean cultural perspective, the shame must reflect upon a male, and the males would be the wife’s father, brothers, or other significant men in her family. Because of the inevitable bloodshed, such a situation must be avoided at all costs.

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SOURCE: The Sunday Website at Saint Louis University: This website is a service of the Catholic Studies Centre at Saint Louis University, Matthew Baugh, SJ, Director; John Foley, SJ, Editor; Eleonore Stump, Coordinator; JC McCollum, Webmaster

DENNIS HAMM, SJ

Male and Female

LET THE SCRIPTURES SPEAK: Once more, we appear to be confronted by an embarrassing image of male domination: the woman fashioned from a small part of the man. A mere addendum.

Think of that moment when Annie Sullivan thrust Helen Keller’s hand under the outpouring of the water pump, and then fingered the letters W-A-T-E-R on her palm, and the young blind and deaf women, for the first time in her life, discovered what words were about. Her heart leapt at the discovery of language and the joy of naming.

Or recall the last time you watched the delight of an eighteen-month-old child darting about the house pointing to objects and proclaiming their names: “door,” “Ziggy” (the house cat), “TV,” “rug,” “nose,” “table,” “apple.”

Whatever abilities other animals may have for relating to their environment (and there are some uncanny instincts out there), as far as we can figure, only human beings name things. Only we have the full gift of language. The author of the first reading from Genesis 2 celebrates that wonder.

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SOURCE: The Sunday Website at Saint Louis University: This website is a service of the Catholic Studies Centre at Saint Louis University, Matthew Baugh, SJ, Director; John Foley, SJ, Editor; Eleonore Stump, Coordinator; JC McCollum, Webmaster

JOHN FOLEY, SJ

Flesh of My Flesh

SPIRITUALITY OF THE READINGS: Everyone knows that a man, left on his own, will likely be helpless. He needs company, needs partnership, correction, and sometimes just a lot of forgiveness.

God did a wonderful job in creating things. He did it with a Big Bang, out of which came the universe and galaxies, and … well, whatever else. So, God is a great artist… But unfortunately, in the sequence of creation, God made a mistake. The First Reading tells us that he created the male first. Everyone knows that a man, left on his own, will likely be helpless. He needs company, needs partnership, correction, and sometimes just a lot of forgiveness. For almost all men, this means being with, or at least open to, the creature called woman…

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SOURCE: The Sunday Website at Saint Louis University: This website is a service of the Catholic Studies Centre at Saint Louis University, Matthew Baugh, SJ, Director; John Foley, SJ, Editor; Eleonore Stump, Coordinator; JC McCollum, Webmaster

ELEONORE STUMP

Marriage

GLANCING THOUGHTS: Married people are open to each other and dependent on each other, and so they become terribly vulnerable to each other, too.

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SOURCE: The Sunday Website at Saint Louis University: This website is a service of the Catholic Studies Centre at Saint Louis University, Matthew Baugh, SJ, Director; John Foley, SJ, Editor; Eleonore Stump, Coordinator; JC McCollum, Webmaster

GERALD DARRING

The Great Sign

THE PERSPECTIVE OF JUSTICE: The unity of humankind is shattered every day by the many scourges of injustice: racism, sexism, poverty, hunger, homelessness, war.

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SOURCE: The Sunday Website at Saint Louis University: This website is a service of the Catholic Studies Centre at Saint Louis University, Matthew Baugh, SJ, Director; John Foley, SJ, Editor; Eleonore Stump, Coordinator; JC McCollum, Webmaster

JOE MILNER

Ideas for General Intercessions

Ideas designed to be starting points for the prayers of a particular community of faith.

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SOURCE: The Sunday Website at Saint Louis University: This website is a service of the Catholic Studies Centre at Saint Louis University, Matthew Baugh, SJ, Director; John Foley, SJ, Editor; Eleonore Stump, Coordinator; JC McCollum, Webmaster

27th Sunday of Year B

LIFE RECOVERY NOTES

Jesus is with Us in Our Suffering

Hebrews 2:13 NLT
He also said, “I will put my trust in him,” that is, “I and the children God has given me.”

HEBREWS 2:8-14 Believers who are in recovery are on the way to an eternity with God, moving through difficult territory where Christ has already been. It was God’s great love and grace that led Jesus to his death; by his death salvation was made available to all. It is also God’s grace that leads us through suffering in recovery. Often it is only through the refining fire of suffering that we achieve balance and true holiness. When we suffer, we can be sure that Jesus is with us, that he went before us, and that God will use our pain for his purposes.

SOURCE: Content taken from THE LIFE RECOVERY BIBLE notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

LIFE RECOVERY NOTES

Marriage is Not Always Easy, Neither is Recovery

Mark 10:2 NLT
Some Pharisees came and tried to trap him with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife?”

MARK10:1-12 The Pharisees were not looking for guidance when they asked Jesus about divorce; they were looking for a means to trap him. Jesus offered no grounds for divorce, with the possible exception of infidelity (see Matthew 19:9). Today many believe divorce is a good way to deal with conflict. Most of us have discovered, however, that interpersonal conflicts follow us wherever we go because they are only evidence of much deeper problems. These same problems may also drive our dependency.

Marriage is not always easy; neither is recovery. But both can be of great help to each other. Marriage gives us a context of accountability and loving support to help us through recovery. Recovery gives us the program for personal growth and reestablishing our family and marriage relationships.

SOURCE: Content taken from THE LIFE RECOVERY BIBLE notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

PREACHER’S COMMENTARY

Man — A Social Being

Labels are attached to denominations, theological differences, and ministerial styles that put people just outside the circle of true faith.

GENESIS 2: 1-25 –  According to Genesis 1, when God surveyed His creation piece by piece He affirmed it as “good,” and when He had finished His work He said it was “very good.” But there was one fly in the ointment: “And the LORDGod said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him’ ” (v. 18). For the first time God announces something is “not good,” and it has to do with man’s sense of isolation and his inability to reproduce himself according to the divine instructions. The “helper comparable to him” was absolutely necessary. There are as many opinions as to how long Adam was alone as there are opinions as to the significance of his mate being created after him. Some say that woman was clearly an afterthought, and others insist that when God looked at the man He had made He knew He could do much better so He made woman! One suspects, and sincerely hopes, that such comments are made with tongue in cheek!

This account of the beginning of man-woman relationships, however, is deeply significant. It is in the context of Adam’s review of the animal kingdom that “there was not found a helper comparable to him” (v. 20). Man and animals had their origins in the ground (ada¯ma¯h ), but as one species after another passed before Adam’s inquisitive and insightful gaze, it was clear that while he and the animals had much in common, they all had their mates, yet he was very much alone. So the Lord “caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs … then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman” (vv. 21, 22). This beautiful, perfect woman was then presented by God to the revived Adam who immediately recognized that she was uniquely part of him. The estrangement and distance which he had felt so poignantly as he reviewed the rest of creation was gone. They were truly meant for each other!

Theologians and commentators through the centuries have had a great time working on the significance of the “rib” and some of the results have been somewhat fanciful. But it is safe to see the ideas of Adam giving of himself for her and of her coming alongside him in his alone-ness and limited-ness, when we realize that the Hebrew word for rib can also be translated “side.” This “alongside” relationship receives more support when we consider the famous expression “helpmeet” or “helper corresponding to him.” It is unfortunate that “helpmeet” has been used in such a way that its meaning has been obscured. The word “helper” occurs twenty-one times in the Old Testament and on fifteen of those occasions it refers to God helping man in one way or another—a fact which casts doubt on the common suggestion that woman as man’s helper was in some way subordinate and inferior.

When man saw woman he was so excited that he exclaimed “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man” (v. 23). The expression translated “this is now” is really an exclamation of delight meaning “at last,” or as some commentators suggest maybe even “Wow, look at that!” Up until this point a¯da¯m has been used for “man” but now the word used is )îs and the word for woman )isâh —a connection as obvious in Hebrew as the connection between man and woman in English.

The summation of all this magnificent truth about the one-ness, related-ness, alongsided-ness of male and female is: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (v. 24). The words have a familiar ring, of course, not only because they are the basis for the Lord Jesus’ exposition of marriage in Mark 10:7–9 but also because they are usually quoted at some stage of the marriage service. The social needs of mankind are to be met uniquely but not exclusively in the marriage bond. As surely as God built physical laws into the universe from the very beginning He incorporated societal laws, and as surely as we cannot ignore the former with impunity we cannot allow the latter to be disregarded and expect our society to survive unscathed. The “leaving” and “cleaving” may sound old-fashioned—and so it is—but it is still God’s societal law. The “one flesh” relationship of “a man” and “his wife” may sound very restrictive to a society bent on such high-sounding but low-living ideals as “sexual emancipation.” But the law stands today as surely as it did in the beginning, and when it is honored and practiced, the result is the same—man and woman in loving, mutual respect and support live in harmony and openness. It will be for them as it was when Moses wrote: they are “not ashamed” (v. 25).

Some years ago I picked up a hitchhiker who, in the course of conversation, told me he was “trying to find himself.” I told him somewhat facetiously that I knew exactly where he was; he was sitting next to me! He smiled rather warily but then we talked more seriously. He really meant that he was trying to find significance and meaning in his life. Like many other people I have met he needed to be told or reminded that man’s meaning is found in his relationship to God, and nowhere is it better explained than in these early chapters of Genesis.

SOURCE: Excerpt taken from THe Preacher’s Commentary, Complete 35-Volume Set: Genesis–Revelation offers pastors, teachers, and Bible study leaders clear and compelling insights into the entire Bible that will equip them to understand, apply, and teach the truth in God’s Word.

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27th Sunday of Year B

MARK 10:1–12

1. And he arose from thence, and cometh into the coasts of Judæa by the farther side of Jordan: and the people resort unto him again; and, as he was wont, he taught them again.

2. And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him.

3. And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you?

4. And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away.

5. And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.

6. But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.

7. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;

8. And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.

9. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

10. And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter.

11. And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.

12. And if a woman shall put away her husband and be married to another, she committeth adultery.

ANNOTATED INDEX

Third Century

  • Origen – Alexandrian biblical critic, exegete, theologian, and spiritual writer; analyzed the Scriptures on three levels: the literal, the moral, and the allegorical
  • Cyprian – pagan rhetorician converted to Christianity; acquired acquired a profound knowledge of the Scriptures and the writings of Tertullian; elected bishop of Carthage; martyred in 258

Fourth Century

  • Eusebius – Bishop of Caesarea; author of Ecclesiastical History, the principal source for the history of Christianity from the Apostolic Age till his own day; also wrote a valuable work on Biblical topography called the Onomasticon
  • Athanasius – Bishop of Alexandria; attended the Council of Nicea; opposed Arianism, in defence of the faith proclaimed at Nicaea—that is, the true deity of God the Son
  • Hilary – Bishop of Poitiers; the earliest known writer of hymns in the Western Church; defended the cause of orthodoxy against Arianism; became the leading Latin theologian of his age
  • Gregory of Nazianzus – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; a great influence in restoring the Nicene faith and leading to its final establishment at the Council of Constantinople in 381
  • Gregory of Nyssa – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Nyssa; took part in the Council of Constantinople
  • Ambrose – Bishop of Milan; partly responsible for the conversion of Augustine; author of Latin hymns; it was through his influence that hymns became an integral part of the liturgy of the Western Church
  • Jerome – biblical scholar; devoted to a life of asceticism and study; his greatest achievement was his translation of the Bible into Latin (the Vulgate); also wrote many biblical commentaries
  • Nemesius – Christian philosopher; Bishop of Emesa in Syria
  • Augustine – Bishop of Hippo (in northern Africa); a “Doctor of the Church”; most famous work is his Confessions; his influence on the course of subsequent theology has been immense
  • Chrysostom – Bishop of Constantinople; a “Doctor of the Church”; a gifted orator; his sermons on Gen, Ps, Isa, Matt, John, Acts, and the Pauline Epistles (including Hebrews) established him as the greatest of Christian expositors
  • Prosper of Aquitaine – theologian; supporter of Augustinian doctrines; closely associated with Pope Leo I (“the Great”)
  • Damasus – pope; active in suppressing heresy
  • Apollinaris of Laodicea – Bishop of Laodicea; close friend of Athanasias; vigorous advocate of orthodoxy against the Arians
  • Amphilochius of Iconium – Bishop of Iconium; close friend of the Cappadocian Fathers; defended the full Divinity of the Holy Spirit

Fifth Century

  • Asterius of Amasea – Arian theologian; some extant homilies on the Psalms attributed to him
  • Evagrius Ponticus – spiritual writer; noted preacher at Constantinople; spent the last third of his life living a monastic life in the desert
  • Isidore of Pelusium – an ascetic and exegete; his extant correspondence contains much of doctrinal, exegetical, and moral interest
  • Cyril of Alexandria – Patriarch of Alexandria; contested Nestorius; put into systematic form the classical Greek doctrines of the Trinity and of the Person of Christ
  • Maximus of Turin – Bishop of Turin; over 100 of his sermons survive
  • Cassion (prob. Cassian) – one of the great leaders of Eastern Christian monasticism; founded two monasteries near Marseilles; best known books the Institutes and the Conferences
  • Chrysologus – Bishop of Ravenna; a “Doctor of the Church”
  • Basil “the Great” – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Caesarea; responsible for the Arian controversy’s being put to rest at the Council of Constantinople
  • Theodotus of Ancyra – Bishop of Ancyra; wrote against the teaching of Nestorius
  • Leo the Great – Pope who significantly consolidated the influence of the Roman see; a “Doctor of the Church”; his legates defended Christological orthodoxy at the Council of Chalcedon
  • Gennadius – Patriarch of Constantinople; the author of many commentaries, notably on Genesis, Daniel, and the Pauline Epistles
  • Victor of Antioch – presbyter of Antioch; commentator and collector of earlier exegetical writings
  • Council of Ephesus – declared the teachings of Nestorious heretical, affirming instead the unity between Christ’s human and divine natures
  • Nilus – Bishop of Ancyra; disciple of St John Chrysostom; founder of a monastery; conducted a large correspondence influencing his contemporaries; his writings deal mainly with ascetic and moral subjects

Sixth Century

  • Dionysius Areopagita (aka Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite) – mystical theologian; combined Neoplatonism with Christianity; the aim of all his works is the union of the whole created order with God
  • Gregory the Great – Pope; a “Doctor of the Church”; very prolific writer of works on practical theology, pastoral life, expositions of Job, sermons on the Gospels, etc.
  • Isidore – Bishop of Seville; a “Doctor of the Church”; concerned with monastic discipline, clerical education, liturgical uniformity, conversion of the Jews; helped secure Western acceptance of Filioque clause
  • Eutychius (Patriarch of Constan­tinople) – consecrated the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople; defended the Chalcedonian faith against an unorthodox sect; became controversial later in life
  • Isaac (Bp. of Nineveh) (aka Isaac the Syrian) – monastic writer on ascetic subjects
  • Severus (Bp. of Antioch) – Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch; the leading theologian of the moderate Monophysites
  • John Climacus – ascetic and writer on the spiritual life; later Abbot of Mt. Sinai; best known for his Ladder of Divine Ascent which treats of the monastic virtues and vices
  • Fulgentius – Bishop of Ruspe in N. Africa; scholarly disposition; follower of St. Augustine; wrote many treatises against Arianism and Pelagianism

Seventh Century

  • Maximus ( of Constantinople, 645.) – Greek theologian; prolific writer on doctrinal, ascetical, exegetical, and liturgical subjects

Eighth Century

  • Bede (131CESK) – “the Venerable Bede”; a “Doctor of the Church”; pedagogue, biblical exegete, hagiographer, and historian, the most influential scholar from Anglo-Saxon England
  • John Damascene – Greek theologian; a “Doctor of the Church”; defender of images in the Iconoclastic Controversy; expounded the doctrine of the perichoresis (circumincession) of the Persons of the Trinity
  • Alcuin – Abbot of St. Martin’s (Tours); a major contributor to the Carolingian Renaissance; supervised the production of several complete editions of the Bible; responsible for full acceptance of the Vulgate in the West

Ninth Century

  • Haymo (of Halberstadt) – German Benedictine monk who became bishop of Halberstadt; prolific writer
  • Photius (of Constantinople) – Patriarch of Constantinople; a scholar of wide interests and encyclopedic knowledge; his most important work, Bibliotheca, is a description of several hundred books (many now lost), with analyses and extracts; also wrote a Lexicon
  • Rabanus Maurus – Abbot of Fulda in Hess Nassau; later Archbishop of Mainz; wrote commentaries on nearly every Book of the Bible
  • Remigius (of Auxerre) monk, scholar, and teacher
  • Paschasius Radbertus – Carolingian theologian; wrote commentaries on Lamentations and Matthew, as well as the first doctrinal monograph on the Eucharist, he maintained the real Presence of Christ

Eleventh Century

  • Theophylact – Byzantine exegete; his principal work, a series of commentaries on several OT books and on the whole of the NT except Revelation, is marked by lucidity of thought and expression and closely follows the scriptural text
  • Anselm – Archbishop of Canterbury; a “Doctor of the Church”; highly regarded teacher and spiritual director; famous ontological argument for the existence of God as “that than which nothing greater can be thought”
  • Petrus Alphonsus – Jewish Spanish writer and astronomer, a convert to Christianity; one of the most important figures in anti-Judaic polemics
  • Laufranc (prob. Lanfranc) – Archbishop of Canterbury; commented on the Psalms and Pauline Epistles; his biblical commentary passed into the Glossa Ordinaria

COMMENTARY

BEDE. (in Marc. 3, 40) Up to this time Mark hath related what our Lord said and did in Galilee; here he begins to relate what He did, taught, or suffered in Judæa, and first indeed across the Jordan on the east; and this is what is said in these words: And he arose from thence, and cometh into the coasts of Jadœa, by the farther side of Jordan; then also on this side Jordan, when He came to Jericho, Bethany, and Jerusalem. And though all the province of the Jews is generally called Judæa, to distinguish it from other nations, more especially, however, its southern portion was called Judæa, to distinguish it from Samaria, Galilee, Decapolis, and the other regions in the same province.

THEOPHYLACT. But He enters the region of Judæa, which the envy of the Jews had often caused Him to leave, because His Passion was to take place there. He did not, however, then go up to Jerusalem, but to the confines of Judæa, that He might do good to the multitudes, who were not evil; for Jerusalem was, from the malice of the Jews, the worker of all the wickedness. Wherefore it goes on: And the people resort unto him again, and, as he was wont, he taught them again.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) Mark the difference of temper in the multitude and in the Pharisees. The former meet together, in order to be taught, and that their sick may be healed, as Matthew relates; the latter come to Him, to try to deceive their Saviour by tempting Him. Wherefore there follows, And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting Him. (Matt. 19:2)

THEOPHYLACT. They come to Him indeed, and do not quit Him, lest the multitudes should believe on Him; and by continually coming to Him, they thought to bring Him into difficulty, and to confuse Him by their questions. For they proposed to Him a question, which had on either side a precipice, so that whether He said that it was lawful for a man to put away his wife, or that it was not lawful, they might accuse Him, and contradict what He said, out of the doctrines of Moses. Christ, therefore, being Very Wisdom, in answering their question, avoids their snares.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc. et v. Chrys. Hom. 62) For being asked, whether it is lawful, he does not immediately reply, it is not lawful, lest they should raise an outcry, but He first wished them to answer Him as to the sentence of the law, that they by their answer might furnish Him with what it was right to say. Wherefore it goes on, And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you? And afterwards, And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away. They put forward indeed this that Moses had said either on account of the question of our Saviour, or wishing to excite against Him a multitude of men. For divorce was an indifferent thing among the Jews, and all practised it, as though it were permitted by the law.

AUGUSTINE. (de Con. Evan. 2. 62) It makes nothing, however, to the truth of the fact, whether, as Matthew says,1 they themselves addressed to the Lord the question concerning the bill of divorcement, allowed to them by Moses, on our Lord’s forbidding the separation, and confirming His sentence from the law, or whether it was in answer to a question of His, that they said this concerning the command of Moses, as Mark here says. For His wish was to give them no reason why Moses permitted it, before they themselves had mentioned the fact; since then the wish of the parties speaking, which is what the words ought to express, is in either way shewn, there is no discrepancy, though there be a difference in the way of relating it. It may also be meant that, as Mark expresses it, the question put to them by the Lord, What did Moses command? was in answer to those who had previously asked His opinion concerning the putting away of a wife; and when they had replied that Moses permitted them to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away, (Matt. 19:4) His answer was concerning that same law, given by Moses, how God instituted the marriage of a male, and a female, saying those things which Matthew relates; on hearing which they again rejoined what they had replied to Him when He first asked them, namely, Why then did Moses command?

AUGUSTINE. (cont. Faust. xix. 26) Moses, however, was against a man’s dismissing his wife, for he interposed this delay, that a person whose mind was bent on separation, might be deterred by the writing of the bill, and desist; particularly, since, as is related, among the Hebrews, no one was allowed to write Hebrew characters but the scribes. The law therefore wished to send him, whom it ordered to give a bill of divorcement, before he dismissed his wife, to them, who ought to be wise interpreters of the law, and just opponents of quarrel. For a bill could only be written for him by men, who by their good advice might overrule him, since his circumstances and necessity had put him into their hands, and so by treating between him and his wife they might persuade them to love and concord. But if a hatred so great had arisen that it could not be extinguished and corrected, then indeed a bill was to be written, that he might not lightly put away her who was the object of his hate, in such a way as to prevent his being recalled to the love, which he owed her by marriage, through the persuasion of the wise. For this reason it is added, For the hardness of your heart, he wrote this precept; for great was the hardness of heart which could not be melted or bent to the taking back and recalling the love of marriage, even by the interposition of a bill in a way which gave room for the just and wise to dissuade them.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Cat. in Marc. Oxon.) Or else, it is said, For the hardness of your hearts, because it is possible for a soul purged from desires and from anger to bear the worst of women; but if those passions have a redoubled force over the mind, many evils will arise from hatred in marriage. (Chrys. ubi sup.). Thus then, He saves Moses, who had given the law, from their accusation, and turns the whole upon their head. But since what He had said was grievous to them, He at once brings back the discourse to the old law, saying, But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) He says not male and females, which the sense would have required had it referred to the divorce of former wives, but male and female, so that they might be bound by the tie of one wife.

CHRYSOSTOM. (ubi sup.) If however he had wished one wife to be put away and another to be brought in, He would have created several women. Nor did God only join one woman to one man, but He also bade a man quit his parents and cleave to his wife. Wherefore it goes on: And he said, (that is, God said by Adam,) For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife. From the very mode of speech, shewing the impossibility of severing marriage, because He said, He shall cleave.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) And in like manner, because He says, he shall cleave to his wife, not wives. It goes on: And they twain shall be one flesh.

CHRYSOSTOM. (ubi sup.) Being framed out of one root, they will join into one body. It goes on: So then they are no more twain, but one flesh.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) The reward then of marriage is of two to become one flesh. Virginity being joined to the Spirit, becomes of one spirit.

CHRYSOSTOM. (ubi sup.) After this, bringing forward an awful argument, He said not, do not divide, but He concluded, What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

AUGUSTINE. (cont. Faust. xix. 29) Behold the Jews are convinced out of the books of Moses, that a wife is not to be put away, while they fancied that in putting her away, they were doing the will of Moses. In like manner from this place, from the witness of Christ Himself, we know this, that God made and joined male and female, for denying which the Manichees are condemned, resisting now not the books of Moses, but the Gospel of Christ.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) What therefore God hath conjoined by making one flesh of a man and a woman, that man cannot separate, but God alone. Man separates, when we dismiss the first wife because we desire a second; but it is God who separates, when by common consent, for the sake of serving God, we so have wives as though we had none.n

CHRYSOSTOM. (non occ.) But if two persons, whom God has joined together, are not to be separated; much more is it wrong to separate from Christ, the Church, which God has joined to Him.

THEOPHYLACT. But the disciples were offended, as not being fully satisfied with what had been said; for this reason they again question Him, wherefore there follows, And in the house, his disciples asked him again of the same matter.

PSEUDO-JEROME. This second question is said to be asked again by the Apostles, because it is on the subject of which the Pharisees had asked Him, that is, concerning the state of marriage; and this is said by Mark in his own person.

GLOSS. (non occ.) For a repetition of a saying of the Word, produces not weariness, but thirst and hunger; (Ecclus. 24:29) wherefore it is said, They that eat me shall yet be hungry, and they that drink me shall yet be thirsty; for the tasting of the honied words of wisdom yields all manner of savour to them who love her. Wherefore the Lord instructs His disciples over again; for it goes on, And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife and marry another, committeth adultery upon her.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) The Lord calls by the name of adultery cohabitation with her who is not a man’s wife; she is not, however, a wife, whom a man has taken to him, after quitting his first; and for this reason he commits adultery upon her, that is, upon the second, whom he brings in. And the same thing is true in the case of the woman; wherefore it goes on, And if a woman shall put away her husband, and marry another, she committeth adultery; for she cannot be joined to another as her own husband, if she leave him who is really her own husband. The law indeed forbade what was plainly adultery; but the Saviour forbids this, which was neither plain, nor known to all, though it was contrary to nature.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) In Matthew it is more fully expressed, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication. (Matt. 19:9.) The only carnal cause then is fornication; the only spiritual cause is the fear of God, that a man should put away his wife to enter into religiono, as we read that many have done. But there is no cause allowed by the law of God for marrying another, during the lifetime of her who is quitted.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) There is no contrariety in Matthew’s relating that He spoke these words to the Pharisees, though Mark says that they were spoken to the disciples; for it is possible that He may have spoken them to both.

MARK 10:13–16

13. And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.

14. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

15. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.

16. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.

COMMENTARY

THEOPHYLACT. The wickedness of the Pharisees in tempting Christ, has been related above, and now is shewn the great faith of the multitude, who believed that Christ conferred a blessing on the children whom they brought to Him, by the mere laying on of His hands. Wherefore it is said: And they brought young children to him, that he might touch them.

CHRYSOSTOM. (ubi sup.) But the disciples, out of regard for the dignity of Christ, forbade those who brought them. And this is what is added: And his disciples rebuked those who brought them. But our Saviour, in order to teach His disciples to be modest in their ideas, and to tread under foot worldly pride, takes the children to Him, and assigns to them the kingdom of God: wherefore it goes on: And he said unto them, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not.

ORIGEN. (Matt. tom. xv. 7) If any of those who profess to hold the office of teaching1 in the Church should see a person bringing to them some of the foolish of this world, and low born, and weak, who for this reason are called children and infants, let him not forbid the man who offers such an one to the Saviour, as though he were acting without judgment. After this He exhorts those of His disciples who are already grown to full stature to condescend to be useful to children, that they may become to children as children, that they may gain children; for He Himself, when He was in the form of God, humbled Himself, and became a child. On which He adds: For of such is the kingdom of heaven. (1 Cor. 9:22)

CHRYSOSTOM. (ubi sup.) For indeed the mind of a child is pure from all passions, for which reason, we ought by free choice to do those works, which children have by nature.

THEOPHYLACT. Wherefore He says not, for of these, but of such is the kingdom of God, that is, of persons who have both in their intention and their work the harmlessness and simplicity which children have by nature. For a child does not hate, does nothing of evil intent, nor though beaten does he quit his mother; and though she clothe him in vile garments, prefers them to kingly apparel; in like manner he, who lives according to the good ways of his mother the Church, honours nothing before her, nay, not pleasure, which is the queen of many; wherefore also the Lord subjoins, Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) That is, if ye have not innocence and purity of mind like that of children, ye cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven. Or else, we are ordered to receive the kingdom of God, that is, the doctrine of the Gospel, as a little child, because as a child, when he is taught, does not contradict his teachers, nor put together reasonings and words against them, but receives with faith what they teach, and obeys them with awe, so we also are to receive the word of the Lord with simple obedience, and without any gainsaying. It goes on: And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) Fitly does He take them up into His arms to bless them, as it were, lifting into His own bosom, and reconciling Himself to His creation, which in the beginning fell from Him, and was separated from Him. Again, He puts His hands upon the children, to teach us the working of His divine power; and indeed, He puts His hands upon them, as others are wont to do, though His operation is not as that of others, for though He was God, He kept to human ways of acting, as being very man.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) Having embraced the children, He also blessed them, implying that the lowly in spirit are worthy of His blessing, grace, and love.

SOURCE: eCatholic 2000 Commentary in public domain.

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