Whenever we gather to celebrate the Eucharist, we give God thanks and praise for three mysteries: creation, redemption and our sanctification through the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Creation! The passage from Genesis recounts aspects of the creation story. Here God provides for Adam a partner for the journey. So strong is the bond between husband and wife that individuals leave their family of origin to begin their own family. No longer are they two, but have become one.
This sense of intimacy is captured in Thomas Hardy’s novel, “Jude the Obscure”: “That complete mutual understanding, in which every glance and movement were as effectual as speech for conveying intelligence between them, made them almost the two parts of a single whole.” Here we have a thing of beauty: mutual understanding, communication at many different levels, a quiet harmony. Indeed, it is not good for humans to be alone. We are made for intimacy, closeness to God, to one another, indeed, to ourselves.
Redemption! It is in Jesus that redemption is made present and manifest. The book of Hebrews reminds us that it was God’s gracious will that Jesus would taste death for our well-being. Our salvation involved suffering; our redemption in Jesus made glory possible. Through Jesus we are made one once again with the Father; through Jesus we have access to eternal life.
Redemption involves the forgiveness of sins. Sin separates us from God, others and ourselves. Who will make us whole once again? Jesus was sent to reconcile all of creation back to the Father. Through baptism, confirmation and Eucharist, all of us are invited, indeed mandated, to participate in Christ’s redemptive power.
Sanctification! The universal vocation for all people is the call to holiness. Holiness is essentially the perfection of love and where love is present the by-products are peace and joy. The Gospel points out two realities that contradict God’s will: divorce and adultery. Again, the unity and oneness that Jesus came to establish are blocked by broken relationships.
Our Gospel acclamation is telling: “If we love one another, God will live in us in perfect love.” Creation, redemption and sanctification are all expressions of a God who is love. Human behavior, be it divorce, adultery, acts of justice and charity, is to be judged in the light of our triune God. Does this attitude or behavior promote or threaten the unity that is at the core of the Gospel message?
Questions for reflection
1. How do you evaluate various forms of human conduct?
2. In what way are you an agent of God’s creative, redemptive and sanctifying grace?
3. How do you deal with broken relationships?
Bishop Morneau is the auxiliary bishop of the Green Bay Diocese and pastor of Resurrection Parish in Allouez.