Monday, October 8, 2012

Twenty Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jesus is the redemption and glorification of the original promise.

In the first reading we see the creation of man and woman, the first husband and wife. Out of all of creation there is no one who is a suitable partner for man but woman, and together they are more than just partners, they are one flesh. “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife.” The original promise of marriage, the mystery of the union, is the promise of finding what is lacking in each other and binding the incomplete halves together so tightly that one would think no more of separating from their spouse than they would their body.

We’ve lost that in time since. By the time of Moses, Paradise had fallen and divorce was already necessary because of sin. With sin, the original promise of Eden is lost and impossible to find. But Jesus is our redemption and our salvation. Because “for a time he became little lower than the angels” and gave himself for our sins, Jesus has made perfection possible again. The grace that lives inside of us because of Christ Jesus makes the impossible possible.

This is the redemption of the promise that Christ makes possible again, that we do not need divorce because of Christ’s grace. But Christ has also transformed everything under the law and made it better. He said “I have not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it,” and he has done no less with marriage. We see this in the Church; no longer are we just man and woman, but we are also brothers and sisters in Christ. The consecrated religious do not find a suitable partner among men and women, but give their hearts and lives to God and the Church. What is lacking in ourselves we have found in Christ, and we leave our mothers and fathers to cling to the Rock our savior.

The Psalmist tells us “Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the recesses of your home; your children like olive plants around your table.” Christ is the fruitful vine, and the converts we bring into the church are our children. This is how Paul addresses the churches in his letters, and how the new spiritual family is born. Priests minister to their congregations like a father to sons and daughters, and all of us lay people disciple each other.

We are no longer bound by ordinary flesh and blood. The body Christ gave for the world has superseded the rib that Adam sacrificed for Eve. In Heaven there will be no giving and taking in marriage, because everything that we lack we will find in God. On earth Christ has redeemed ordinary marriage because of his grace, but the consecrated religious show us the marriage of Heaven, the redemption and glorification of the original promise in Paradise.