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    St. Mary's Parish
    211 Avenue O South
    Saskatoon, SK
    S7M 2R6

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October 4, 2015 Twenty Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

family praying

Suitable Partnerships

 FAMILY LIFE IS A SIGN OF God’s blessing, the psalmist tells us.  Then he paints a quaint illustration of what that means.  The wife is a fruitful vine in the protective quarters of the home.  Children are like olive plants around the table awaiting the time of their abundant yield.  In the typical style of ancient writing, we aren’t told what the husband offers to this arrangement.  It sounds as if he’s meant to be the beneficiary!

When we compare this stylized ancient portrait of the family to the one gathered around the modern dinner table, we may feel something has been lost in translation.  Married women seldom have the option of hanging around the recesses of the home nowadays.  Children may or may not yield a bumper crop according to their parents’ expectations.  It’s the naïve husband and father who imagines that family life exists exclusively for his pleasure.  Such men are routinely disappointed.  That presumes, of course, that the family in question still gathers around the table at all.

Family life, whether ancient or modern, rarely performs to the standards of its comforting advertising.  But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it.  God knows we’re not designed to be alone, as the Genesis story beautifully reminds us.  God sets about creating various options to assuage human loneliness, but God doesn’t insist on any one of them.  God lets the man do the naming of the elements of his reality.  Cattle, birds, and wild animals are added to the scene and the man finds a name and a place for each in his world.  But none presents itself as a suitable partner until he meets the one who share his life, flesh and bone, and with whom he can at last for a family.

A lot of people today find great satisfaction in their dogs, cats, birds and goldfish.  They may even argue that pets bring greater happiness (with less heartbreak) than people do.  You can put an animal on a leash, in a cage or bowl, and train it to perform to specifications, to provide companionship or entertainment on demand.  We can’t do that with family members.  They are free, as we are, to choose their own way.  It takes extra effort to create a family out of a handful of human beings.

It takes commitment, not to mention the investment of a lifetime of love, presence, listening, and sharing, plus financial and emotional support.  Families need us now and they need us later, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, in a shifting sea of conditions we can’t predict.  And when we do gather around that table at last, our family may not look at all like the ideal our psalmist has in mind.  But God has yet to withhold a blessing on the grounds of appearances.

-Alice Camille
used with permission

10-Oct 4, 2015 Bulletin







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