Saturday, October 6, 2012

Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time - October 7, 2012 - Year B - Roman Catholic



This Sunday's Readings:

First Reading - Genesis 2:18-24

Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 128:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6

Second Reading - Hebrews 2:9-11

Gospel Reading - Mark 10:2-12


To all of my readers:  I am so sorry that I have been away for almost a month.  My schedule has been very pressing with my job(s) over the last several weeks, post Labor Day.  I have also just been installed as president of the Board of Director for the National Catholic Ministry to the Bereaved, in relation to my position with Catholic Charities Health & Human Services.  Please excuse my absense.  Next week, I will be traveling in Philadelphia to present a "bereavement ministry" training session for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  I am going to try to have next week's readings and reflections posted by Monday or Tuesday of this coming week.  Thank you in advance!

Barbara Reid, O.P, in her book Abiding Word: Sunday Reflections for Year B, says the following about marriage and what we hear in the scriptures for this Sunday's readings:

"The divorce rate in the United States for the past decade has been approximately 50 percent for first marriages.  The majority cite "irreconcilable differences" as the cause.  Two-thirds of those who divorce have young children.  While no statistic are available for first-century Palestine, divorce was not uncommon.  But marriage practices and attitudes toward marriage were considerably different from our own.  In their patriarchal social system, marriages were arranged between families, to strengthen the social cohesion of the two clans.  The terms were nogotiated between the groom and his father and the father of the bride.  Divorce would mean a messy separation of the two families and would bring shame on the family of the bride, since in Jewish tradition, only a man could initaite divorce."  (pg. 110)

Many people have asked 'why' these scriptures are still proclaimed in the three year cycle of readings in the Roman Lectionary.  The creation of woman in Genesis 2:18-24 has often been interpreted in misogynistic ways: that the creation of woman as second makes her a "second class citizen."  This is not true.  This passage from the Hebrew Scriptures has interpreted women as subordinate to the man and as a derivative from him.  Moreover the Hebrew phrase in verse 18 has been poorly rendered in some translations as "helpmate," making the sole purpose of woman's creation to be an aid in man's work.  This translation and understanding has been a detriment to many societies throughout the world, especially in Judaism, Islam and Christianity. 

Marriage in general seems to be a hot button topic in today's society.  No one can claim that our definition of marriage throughout time has not changed.  Marriage has been viewed differently throughout time in religion and society.  Now, we are at a point in our culture and society where we are experiencing another shift in the culture's awareness of marriage.  What am I talking about?  Gay marriage.

Yes.  Gay marriage.  I said it.  I wasn't going to bring it up in today's blog, but how could I not?  Conventional wisdom may suggest that religious groups generally oppose same-sex marriage and legal rights for gay Americans (with the exception of the Episcopal Church - USA, and the United Church of Christ, but even these two denominations within Christianity have divisions among them).  Religious groups are on both sides of this debate.  Recently, I was reading an article in "Huff Post Religion" online.  I found an article called, Gay Marriage and Religion Go Hand-In-Hand Among Many Young Americans: Survey.  The survey conducted by Washingon, D.C. -based Public Religion Research Institute, surveyed 3,000 adults in the United States and analyzed results according to age, religion, and ethnicity of race.  It's findings are stunning.  Here is what the poll found:

  • More than six in 10 millennials favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, 69 percent support gay adoption, 71 percent civil unions and 79 percent support employment discrimination protections.  The survey counted senior citizens as people who are 65 or older. 
  • Among millenniuals who are white evangelical Christians, 44 percent support legalization of same-sex marriage, compared to 12 percent of evangelical senior citizens and 19 percent of evangelicals overall. 
  • Almost 7 in 10 millennials (69 percent) believe religious groups are alientating young people by being too judgemental about gay and lesbian issues.  Only 37 percent of senior citizens share the same view. 
  • Majorities of non-Christian religious Americans (67 percent), Catholic (52 percent) and white mainline Protestants (51 percent) favor legalizing same-sex marriage.  Six in 10 black Protestants are against gay marriage, while that number jumps to 76 percent among white evangelical Protestants.  The survey does not break down results by individual non-Christian religions.
  • Slightly more Catholics believe their church's view on homosexuality is too conservative (43 percent) than those who believe it is right (43 percent).  Just six percent think the church's positions are too liberal.  Among Catholics who attend Mass at least weekly, 37 percent say the church is too conservative on gay issues. 

We are living in a society where this issue is being debated constantly.  It is even in our current political debate for our upcoming presidential election.  The issue at hand is currently tearing apart many denominations within Christianity.  It is also tearing us apart as a nation in many different ways.



Bottom line:

We have a responsibility as Christians to love one another, no matter what our differences are.  Love of God and neighbor are two of the most important things that we are called to live in our lives.  Marriage doesn't have to be a part of it.  Can't we just love one another?  Can't we say kind words to one another?  And if we disagree with one another - that is OK - but can we be respectful about it?  Not everyone has to agree all the time, but love of God and neighbor does demand that we be respectful of each other. 

Will the current issue of gay marriage be solved anytime soon?  I wish I knew the answer to that.  However, I do wish for equal rights (legal and sacramental), not only from the country that I live in, but from the very Church that I serve. 

May the peace of Christ which surpasses all understanding be with you and yours this weekend.