Homily for 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time of Year B
Theme: Bringing to God Our Marital and Family Problems
By: Fr. Luke Ijezie
Homily for Sunday October 3 2021
1. One theme that may inform most homilies of this 27th Sunday of the year is the theme of marriage and its problems. One can treat it from different angles, all based on the liturgical texts of today. But it may be interesting to approach the message from the perspective of the Gospel text from Mark 10:2-16. According to the passage, Jesus started with a hard teaching on the indissolubility of marriage and his words left his disciples perplexed. If one cannot divorce, what then is to be done when serious problems arise in a marriage?
But, surprisingly, the Gospel text presents another episode of people bringing their child to Jesus for him to touch them, while the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus scolded his disciples and said: “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” This sounds radical.
But how does one link the two episodes of marriage and touching of children, which to many readers may seem unrelated? One can say that in that link really lies the message of this Sunday.
Receiving the kingdom of God like a little child in this context means coming to Jesus and receiving his touch as the children do in the story. Whoever does not get touched by Jesus cannot enter the Kingdom. The touch of Jesus is a touch of healing and blessing.
In a similar way, marriage and family issues must be brought to Jesus for there to be healing and blessing. When problems arise in marriage, the option should not be divorce but healing. The problem should be brought to Jesus and should not only be treated on the human level and with human means alone.
2. The marital union is usually anchored on the cliché: “for better for worse”. This accepts the fact that the union is open to negative and positive forces. The marital union involves two weak creatures prone to error and exposed to factors that cause suffering. Suffering is part and parcel of our earthly life, and we cannot run away from it. Jesus himself tasted suffering in plenty. The is the point of he second reading from the Letter to the Hebrews (2:9-11). The suffering of Jesus is presented as a necessary process to attain glory. So, all followers of Jesus must be ready to suffer in order to reach the goal. In this light, Christian couples and families should see their problems as stepping stones to glory, as Jesus the Eternal Bridegroom passed through the same process.
3. The first reading recounts the story of the origin of the first marital union. The woman was created because the Creator God saw the helplessness of the man without the companionship well-suited to him. The woman comes to fill a lack in the man and her presence brings completeness. This completeness is effected in the marital union. The husband and wife are joined together and they become one body. If they divorce they become fragmented.
In the Gospel, Jesus sees this joining in marriage as the action of God. He thus admonishes: “What God has joined together let no man put asunder.” This means that since God is responsible for the joining together, whenever the union becomes unsustainable, the couple must go back to God to be touched. Only God can heal the brokenness in the union.
The fact is that problems are bound to arise in every companionship. They abound in excess in families and marital unions. We cannot afford to throw in the towel or to tear the union to pieces each time a serious problem arises. There is need for courage and faith to seek God for remedy.
4. The Psalmist of Psalm 128 enumerates the blessings of the family of those who place their hope in God: Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in His ways.
If the crisis in the family is poverty, the blessing overcomes it: by th labour of your hands you shall eat. If the problem is related to having children, the blessing resolves it: Your wife will be like a fruitful vine in the heart of your house, and then your children will surround your table like shoots of olive.
The problems of living together in marital union are enormous. One cannot underestimate them. One also cannot oversimplify their solutions. But just like little children are being brought to Jesus for a divine touch, all the humongous problems of marriage can be brought to Jesus for a healing touch. The famous story of the wedding at Cana in Galilee recounts how the problem that could have ruined the nascent marriage was instantly resolved as the Mother of Jesus brought the problem to Jesus.
May God continue to touch us with His healing and blessing as we present to him our marital and family problems! Fr. Luke Ijezie