27th Sunday in ordinary time: Wholeness of being
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27th Sunday in ordinary time: Wholeness of being

Today’s readings: Genesis 2, 18-24; Hebrews 2, 9-11; Mark 10, 2-16.

In the long historical process of the formation of the Bible, the book of Genesis stands out as a strong statement of faith in a personal God as creator. It speaks about how the God we believe in meant things to be and how things eventually evolved, with their innate potentiality towards wholeness and the possibility of distortions.

In today’s text from Genesis we read that God saw that “it is not good that the man should be alone”. Aloneness in itself is a distortion, it hinders wholeness, the wholeness of being we were all meant to achieve in our lives. The focus here is God’s covenant of love with us. It is this that the Scripture proclaims all along, although many a time our mindset fails to grasp that.

Ilia Delio, a Franciscan Sister and an American theologian specialising in the area of science and religion, and author of The Unbearable Wholeness of Being, writes that “we have been inattentive to the cosmology that holds our lives together”. Since the birth of modern science and philosophy, the human person became decentred from a stable universe while God became remote and distant.

Today we cannot afford to speak of faith, religion, humanity and our innate longings as human beings, and remain alien to modern cosmology as if this is science bereft of a richly contemplative spiritual vision.

There is nothing static about creation or about the God of our faith. Physical reality and spiritual reality are intertwined. This should impact deeply on our understanding of reality and of how we develop and grow up as whole persons. We can never fully understand who we are in separation from the bigger picture of creation to which we belong.

The problem of the Pharisees, as we see from today’s gospel, was one of mindset, and Jesus poses a challenge precisely to that. He upholds the dignity of the human person, male or female, no matter how sacred the institution of marriage can be. He switches to how things were in the beginning and bypasses the legalistic disquisitions of the rabbis in their interpretation of the law.

This is exactly what we are called to do even today. Like the Pharisees we have nailed our being to our doing, giving priority to the morality of our behaviour. We take so simplistically what we read from Genesis today, and the dispute between Jesus and the Pharisees in the gospel, as the basis for our doctrine of marriage, which evolved predominantly in terms of a contract rather than in line with God’s covenant proclaimed from the very beginning.

There is an abyss of difference between the two concepts of covenant and contract. Today’s gospel text may sound illogical, putting two themes together with apparently no connection between them. At one point St Mark is dealing with the dispute between Jesus and the Pharisees on marriage and divorce, and then he speaks of the kingdom of God and how it is with the mind and heart of children that it can be welcomed.

Jesus is appealing to the child within. He provides a broader perspective, which takes account of our deep desires, aspirations, and potentiality as part of a larger cosmology of being. This calls to mind Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit scientist and one of the most profound spiritual writers of the 20th century, who was never listened to when he spoke of new ways of thinking about God, creation, and God’s saving plan in Christ.

He was condemned in his lifetime and his writings were banned. There was fear that evolution contradicts Scripture, and we prefer a static, prefabricated world to one that is dynamic and in evolution. Like the Pharisees we prefer straightforward answers than the challenge to dig deep inside and “leave father and mother” to grow up adults and whole persons.

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