27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
October 7, 2012


Back in my Baltimore days, I got sort of hooked to the daytime soap opera DAYS OF OUR LIVES. I did not make much of whatever was going on in the lives of the Horton and Brady families in a town called Salem, but I remember enjoying the portrayal of the complex characters of the evolving story, that began yet in 1965, and is poised to air its 12,000th episode come January 2013.

It is a story filled with twists and turns, unpredictable ends and unexpected bends along the circuitous – if, tumultuous – route that is called life as lived by the average Tom, Dick, and Harry, and for our local culture where I am at, every Juan de la Cruz of our times.

I start with something positive – a blessing, in fact … “May the Lord bless us all the days of our lives!” (Responsorial Psalm).

How does one deserve and earn such a blessing? Let me count the ways, as suggested by the very same psalm and the other readings for today …

First, said blessing comes to those who “fear the Lord and walk in His ways.”
Second, from the first reading, we gather that the blessing is associated with claiming one’s role as “partner” and “leaving father and mother and home – kith and kin – in order to precisely fulfill that role in the context of a relationship made in heaven! Third, the same blessing comes to those who have sufficient wisdom from above to think of himself less and think of others more, that is, being humble as humble can be – like unto Christ, “who was made lower than the angels that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone” (2nd reading). But there is fourth, and a more important one … it comes to those who stand by their promises, who fulfill their vows, and who take on a childlike attitude of trust and dependence as a life of humble submission would dictate.

Now, this is a far cry from what the complex cast of characters of the Days of our Lives shows. This has nothing to do with individuals giving in to the pull of whatever emotion one has at the moment, and submitting to scheming and planning and plotting so that one might outdo or outrace the other, cost what might, happen what might.

I am sure all of us would love to be the recipient of the said blessings from above. I am sure we all would do whatever it takes to earn them, deserve them,  and revel in them.

Today’s readings definitely got good news for us, as always, just like in every other Sunday. Yes, we can! Yes, we can have those blessings.

But blessings don’t just come unbidden. Blessings just don’t come by like lightning bolts from the blue. Blessings are ours to ask for, work for, and even die for! Couples who “live happily ever after” are a matter for fairy tales and feel-good stories for hopeless romantics. Blessings are there for the picking, but for those who are willing to “leave father and mother” in order to cling to his wife and husband, and together, work in order to become “one flesh.”

Yes, Virginia, it is possible. And yes, it is possible only for those who work for it. And, in this case, it definitely takes two to tango. It takes two loving hearts to do, not only a partnership of love, but also a partnership of life, and when we speak of life, the idea of WORK follows closely behind. Even good, old Freud, got it right … No mental health, no maturity, no emotional and psychological well-being for anyone, unless one has both LOVE and WORK! This much, we see from the first reading. God Himself was in search for a “suitable partner” for Adam. And from the Genesis account, that partnership has to do with being “master” of all of creation, that is, by working together to make the earth and everything that is in it, bear fruit in plenty, “for the life of the world.”

Every blessing we have enumerated speaks of more or less the same important value. If it is a value, then it carries with it a certain moral impetus, a responsibility, a duty, if you will! That value calls one to fidelity, to consistency, to constancy in being and becoming that “suitable partner” to one another in the context of a lifetime partnership of life and love – and – work, that is what marriage essentially is all about.

Today, I ask my Catholic readers who are also married couples to begin disabusing the purely romantic notion that your union is only a partnership of love. Take it from Genesis. Take it from Freud, if you will. Take it from the letter writer to the Hebrews. Take it from Christ. You want blessings? Sure!

But get out and work for it. Together. Be partners in life. For life. Out of love. But be partners, too, in work, in a concerted effort to build not just a family, but a kingdom, patterned after the Kingdom of God, a domestic Church, if you will … a little Church, where there is mutual submission, humility, dedication, commitment, constancy and consistency in the good.

You sure you want them blessings? They are there for the taking and the picking, to those who are willing to act like little children, in humility and utter trust in the Lord … to those who help each other subdue the earth and work together to make this world a better and more prosperous place for all.

It goes without saying, though, that you know what it takes to get them blessings … fear the Lord, for one. Walk in His ways, for a second. Difficult? Yes, but the returns are simply out of this world!

May the Good Lord bless us then, all the days of our lives! And I mean this for those of you who are married, and who remain thus through thick and thin, for better or for worse, for richer and for poorer … But I mean this, too, for those who like me, are also called, though single and unattached to anyone, in particular, to the same mission and work, to share in the building of God’s Kingdom on earth.

May the Good Lord, bless us all the days of our lives! Now, that’s not just a blessing, but a claim to the glorious liberty of the children of God!