For October 7, 2012: Proper 22, Year B

The Reading            Genesis 2:18-24

In last week’s Old Testament reading, Moses cried out for relief in dealing with the Israelites, and God sent a committee. Today’s reading takes us back to the beginning of all things: in God’s view, it is no better for the first human to be alone than it is for God. Interestingly it is the creation of woman that makes humans unique.

The Response            Psalm 8

The Epistle            Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12

The letter to the Hebrews, which we read over the next few weeks, is less a letter than it is a tract that sets out demonstrate to first-century Jews how Jesus is the Messiah and fulfiller of the promises in the Old Testament. The quotation in today’s reading is from Psalm 8.

The Gospel            Mark 10:2-16

 

Further thoughts

Divorce—the ending of a marriage by a legal process—has become more and more common in today’s society. The scars that it leaves are properly to be lamented; most of us know and perhaps have sided with a spouse who has been left; some of us have been the spouse who was left or the spouse who left, and too many among us have been the children of a divorcing couple who could not keep their bitterness and anger to themselves. Jesus reminds us that neither marriage nor divorce is to be undertaken lightly, and, though the reminder can be painful, it is salutary.

It is both familiar and appropriate to take the Old Testament text and the gospel together as explaining and approving marriage as part of God’s design for human life. Perhaps, though, they and the epistle are also making a larger point. When the Old Testament tells us that woman was created from man, it tells us that God prizes our distinctivenesses: to hark back to the earlier account in Genesis, God has created each and every one of us in God’s image. It may also be telling us that each of us is created part of all the others. I am a part of you and you are a part of me, and you and I are each a part of people we will never meet, because through God every human being carries the imprint of all human beings. From this it follows that it should matter to me if you are hungry or cold or sad or fearful or in the dark, and it should matter enough to me to do what I can to feed you, warm you, cheer you, or bring you light. For me to turn my back on you amounts to a kind of divorce: you will learn from it, as children of bitter divorces do, that there are questions that are not to be asked and kinds of help you deserve that are not to be gained in your interaction through me, and this closed door may well hamper you in your other dealings.

To turn and seek and serve Christ in someone who has ignored or even scorned me can be painful. To turn and seek and serve Christ in someone I have ignored or scorned can be both painful and shame-inducing. Nevertheless, Jesus whom we all crucified calls me to do exactly that. In so doing I help build up the body of Christ, grace by grace and soul by soul.

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