Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time - Fr. Pete Iorio
October 2, 2021 - 5:00 PM
October 3, 2021 - 8:30 AM, 11:00 AM
When I was a senior in high school, I went on a mission trip to Haiti. One of the places, I visited was an orphanage run by the Missionaries of Charity, Saint Mother Teresa’s sisters. I remember a big room filled with baby cribs. The sisters said that we were allowed to pick up and hold the babies. They craved human touch. When it was time for us to depart, each baby in our arms started to cry as we placed her or him back in the crib. They were also reaching their arms out to pick them up again. That experience gave me an important lesson.
It reminds me that the author of Genesis has captured a very profound reality in a single sentence. "It's not good for the man to be alone." We can say the same for the woman, the child, and any other human being. It is not good for the human person to be alone. We are made in the image of God and now I understand that in light of the Trinity. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three distinct persons who love each other. As human beings in contact with other human beings, we learn who we are in God. The Church in her wisdom has us worship as community, the Body of Christ. Our identity in God is together with other human beings, not just on our own. Also, the Church uses mystical language to describe the nuptial relationship that Christ has with His Body the Church. The two become one flesh as He gives Himself to us in the Eucharist.
There are studies that explain to us how a baby suffers when the child is not surrounded by affection. The child needs more than physical care. S/He has to be touched with affection, listen to a voice that assures him or her, know that someone is near when s/he cries. Through life, the expression of this affection changes, but the need for affection, security, and love continues until death. It is not possible to live a full life without an exchange of words, ideas and affection with another human being.
Our identity, our sense of worth, our maturity - all depend on human relationships. From a young age, we have to form strong relationships of trust.
The subject of the readings touches on marriage and divorce. It indicates that the marriage should be a relationship of respect, trust and equality. Marriage is very different today than it was in the time of Jesus. However, the reality of a sacred relationship between two human beings is the same. A hallmark of this relationship is fidelity. As God is faithful to us, so a couple has to be faithful to each other.
As a member of my family, I know how painful it is to experience a divorce. As a pastor, I know that sometimes a separation or divorce is inevitable to end abuse or move away from a toxic relationship. Jesus does not specifically condemn divorce but lays out the ideal on which all marriages are based. As a family member and a priest, I rejoice that I am going to be celebrating the wedding of my niece and her fiancé next weekend in Nashville. The couple understands the sacredness of marriage in the church. Their lives together will be about God and serving God’s purposes. I am also very honored when you ask me to bless you on the anniversary of your marriages after many years of matrimony that gives witness to God’s presence in your lives. My heart rejoices when I see couples living their marriage vocation by serving in different ways in the Church. The marriage vocation is as important as the vocation of the priest to build up God’s Kingdom.
And today's message is not just for those who are married. It is important that each person stays in relationship with others - living with respect, trust and fidelity. Friendship is a gift that God has given to humanity. We see Jesus who was not married walking among his friends for three years, seeking comfort from his friends the night before his death, and appearing to his friends after the Resurrection. Jesus had an intimate relationship with his heavenly Father, but he depended on friends as a human person. So, knowing that it is not good for us to live alone, we can value the relationships we have with God, with our family, and with our friends.