- Fr. John Jennings
Our Sacred Stories: Love as Unifying Energy
Chelsea & Alan, Mark & Maureen are two couples who entered the Sacrament of Matrimony in the last month. What an honour to be able to celebrate with them! What a joy to see them together! They are sacraments of God’s dream for all creation – that we be brought together to share the life with which God has blessed us, signs of God’s own life-giving love. In this light Fr. Richard Rohr has remarked: Love… might be called the attraction of all things toward all things…. When we are truly ‘in love,’ we move out of our small, individual selves to unite with another, whether in companionship, simple friendship, marriage, or any other trustful relationship. (Richard Rohr. The Universal Christ: New York, Convergent Books 2021)
It seems that God has poured out the energy of loving attraction from the very outset of creation and that we are made to be with one another by nature. In fact, it almost seems that gravity or attraction is the template for all creation. Our scriptures celebrate this attraction at the very outset of the story they tell in the first two chapters of the Book of Genesis. In chapter 1, there is a poetic tale of the whole creative act of God from the foundations of the earth to the advent of humanity. Our world is all of one piece. Chapter 2 offers a story focused on the human need for companionship. Humanity belongs together in love. Whether regarding all of creation or humanity itself, our scriptures assert a central theme – all of creation exists in attraction, an outreach and expression of God’s love.
In the central part of Mark’s Gospel the writer presents a series of instructions Jesus gave to his disciples. One of the topics was marriage and divorce. The Pharisees ask for his views in order to test him. They are seeking a debate which Jesus avoids by offering a teaching (Mark 10:2-12).
Rather than debating the details of the law in Deuteronomy, Jesus goes back to the core of God’s plan for creation as shown in the accounts of Genesis. He presents marriage as a great sign of the loving relationship which is God’s dream for all humanity and for all creation.
The Pharisees are focused on the issue of marriage and divorce, but the separation and brokenness that can be a part of relationships, are not limited to marriage. It is much broader and can be seen in the brokenness and separation that mark the whole of human experience. Global divisions, war, violence, inequality, suffering and injustice all reveal this tendency toward separation. The dream is not yet complete for we are not a perfect world, nor an unfailing humanity. But the call Jesus offers his disciples is to build reign of God in all aspects of creation.
Last October, 2020, Pope Francis recognized this call to loving relationships in his encyclical Fratelli tutti (“Brothers & Sister All). As he set out, he entitled his first chapter “Dark Clouds Over a Closed World”. But at the end of this chapter and throughout the letter, he offers a message of hope. Alluding to our experience of Covid-19, he points out that God continues to sow abundant sees of goodness in our human family.” (54) The experience has alerted us to the fact that our lives are interwoven.
Jesus reveals the healing and reconciling love that is God’s presence among us. He reveals it in all he says, but most especially in what he does. This is the Gospel, the Good News for us. All our relationships are sacred and necessary. They are in so many ways the source of our hope.