Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Meditation on This Week's Gospel

The readings for Sunday, October 7, 2012:

Genesis 2:18-24

Psalm 8

You adorn us with glory and honor. (Ps. 8:6)

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

Mark 10:2-16

If you read the Gospels carefully, you'll realize that Jesus rarely addresses the pressing social issues of our day. Global warming? Nope, he never talks about it. Abortion? Nope. Homosexuality? Not a word: the Bible verses that may address homosexuality, depending on how one interprets certain Greek words, come mainly from the Old Testament and Paul.

But here Jesus talks about divorce. How curious, especially in light of other chapters, where Jesus seems to downplay marriage and family, where he seems to instruct people to abandon their families to follow him. Here he seems to tell husbands and wives that they must stay together, regardless of the circumstances.

Many scholars see the social justice side of Jesus here, the man who cared for the most outcast of society. Almost no one had fewer options than a divorced woman who lived during the time of Jesus. Then, and to a certain extent now, fewer things were more likely to plunge a woman with children into the bottom economic realm of society than divorce or widowhood.

In today’s Gospel reading, we see the concerns of Jesus with the most downtrodden of society: women and children. As our society becomes more and more stratified, we can all use this reminder.

It’s also a reminder that God wants something better for us. God doesn’t want us in societies that are so stratified that we only see people who are just like us. God doesn’t want our personal differences to drive us apart. God doesn’t want us severed apart from each other, if we can avoid it. Even in situations where divorce is the best option, the legacy is one of pain and a variety of new problems. God wants reconciliation.

God also recommends that we approach the world as well-adjusted children do. Through the past 6 years, spending time with my nephew has changed the way I approach the world and helps me understand these Bible passages that revolve around children. My nephew is the most non-judgmental person I know, and it's a delight to spend time with him. He wants us to dance around the living room, and he doesn't care how stupid we look. He wants us to draw him a picture of a truck, and while he'll offer suggestions, he has never crumpled up the paper and told me never to draw again. He delights in the world in a way that most adults have forgotten how to do.

I imagine God is much the same. We've got a wonderful world here, and we often forget how fabulous it is. We get so hung up on all the ways we think the world has gone wrong that we forget what is right. We spend time creating laws to try to control behavior, when we might do better to simply accept people for who they are, which is a major step towards loving them. We want to see the world in strict colors: black, white, no gray. We forget that the world is variegated. If we can leave the land of Law behind and enter the world of Love, we'll see a world washed in color, all of it good. We'll know what God knew, way back in Genesis, that the Creation is good, very good.

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