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Unity marks God’s kingdom

October 1, 2015
Deacon Faiva Po’oi

In the Gospel for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus criticizes the Pharisees for their “hardness of hearts.” But perhaps, in this Gospel reading, there is also a warning for us not to be like the Pharisees in our cafeteria style approach to faith and doctrine. We read of Jesus embracing the children. At the time of Jesus, children were of little, if any, account in Jewish society. The openness of heart that Jesus shows toward the children is a metaphor for unity. The kingdom of God is present in unity, in openness of hearts, and in relationships that are characterized by acceptance and love. God’s desire “from the beginning of creation” is that “the kingdom of God” be marked by unity. In the sacrament of Matrimony, we witness a commitment to God and an expression of unity. Our first reading from Genesis tells us a very beautiful story. At the beginning of creation, God saw that it was not good for people to be lonely, so he decreed a partnership between a man and a woman. What this means is that the idea of marriage was born in the mind of God, and that the first wedding ceremony was performed by God, himself. But Jesus went even further. He tells that all marriages are the work of God, and teaches that no one should separate what God has joined. The message of these readings is quite clear, namely that marriage is a sacred institution requiring a total commitment to one another and to God. For those who are not married, it might be easy to sit back and think: “This reading has nothing to do with me.” But the theme of today’s readings is not limited to the married state. In reality, today’s readings can be applied to all commitments and to the sacredness of commitments. It is not good for a person to live in loneliness. Someone once commented: “God was against loneliness before he was against sin.” That is why he made a man and a woman and brought them together. He did not want either one of them to be lonely. On a busy downtown street, a little girl wandered away from her mother and was lost. A police officer came upon her and tried to help her return home. He asked her, “Where do you live?” The child responded, “With my mother.” “Well,” said the officer, “where does your mother live?” And the little girl replied, “With me.” Trying one more time, the officer asked, “Where do you and your mother live?” The child answered, “With each other.” The little girl did not know her street address, but she did know the most important thing of all: People belong together. In today’s psalm, the Israelites consider the blessings of a happy and fruitful marriage as one of the greatest signs of God’s care and salvation. But for the Israelites, this image of a “happy family” pertains also to the covenant relationship of Israel with God. In praying: “May the Lord bless us all the days of our life,” we ask God to bless our faithfulness – in marriage – and in all our commitments. We ask God to bless a life that is faithful to the “ways of God.” May the holy Eucharist, through the grace of God, help us to stay committed to each other in marriage.

Deacon Po’oi serves at St. Timothy Parish, San Mateo.

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