Mark 10:2-16 | 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B
The Inherent Value in Every Human Relationship
I just dropped our youngest child a couple of days ago, so I am in the throws of empty-nest adjustment. Right now, everything in our house makes me think of our children. The empty bedrooms upstairs they were so excited to get eleven years ago so they no longer had to share. The ancient van in the garage we got so I could tote hoards of kids around and that they both then drove when they got their licenses. The thinly-stocked pantry now that we’re not feeding growing bodies. The empty laundry basket. Even the yard outside reminds me of all of their imaginary play.
But, every now and then, I remind myself that it wasn’t all rosy. There were times I was done with parenthood and would have happily shipped one or the other of them off had that been an option. We always made it through to the other side, and I wouldn’t trade being their mom for anything. But parenthood is hard, and this beginning of the empty-nest reminds me that parenthood is a whole continuum, every bit of which deepens the experience.
Marriage isn’t for the faint of heart either.
There’s the wedding and there’s being married, which are two very different things. In July, I had an accident on one of the electric scooters downtown and was in the ICU for a few days. The more I learned about the accident and the following twenty-four hours, the more I realized what I had put Mark through—such uncertainty about the immediate future. (I’m extremely lucky in that with the exception of some hearing loss, I’m perfectly fine.) But Mark was there for all of it, every minute in the hospital, taking intense care of me once we got home, giving me pep talks when I felt low, and the list goes on. We experienced the whole of marriage during that period.
I think that’s what Jesus was referring to in this gospel passage—that both marriage and parenthood encompass a wide continuum and you can’t have the fullness of either without experiencing it all. I don’t think He was lecturing on the sanctity of marriage or parenthood, although both are deep commitments, but rather I think He wanted us to understand that to live is to experience the good and the bad, and to only be open to the easy or fun is to short yourself of the richness of life.
Jesus lived that truth.
He didn’t use His power to take the easy and potentially spectacular way off the cross. In singling out marriage and children, Jesus gave value to the least of society. He wanted His followers to understand that there is value in everything God created. God created women and children as well as men, and despite societal law, they weren’t just to be cast off when things weren’t easy.
While I’m raw right now as I adjust to an empty house and a different set of priorities, I (mostly) wouldn’t trade it for anything. Jesus wasn’t saying any one way is perfect, but He wanted us to understand that value is inherent to every human being and it is in relationships of all kinds that we are designed to thrive.