It is not good for man to be alone.
These words spoken by God at the very dawn of creation bring forth a singular truth regarding the human condition. Communion and relationship are at the very root of what it means to be human. In one sense this should come as no surprise as we are made in the image and likeness of God who is a communion of persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God is not a “far-away and high loneliness” but rather a living relationship of three Persons. It can be said that God does not live alone and therefore man and woman are not meant to live alone. We are meant for communion and communion, solidarity and support are the root of every human vocation. By living communion (whether that be the communion of friendship, of discipleship, of the common good, of church, of witness) we are being brought to that ultimate communion which will be the union of the human family with God.
This Sunday we are asked to reflect on a specific kind of communion which originates from marriage – the union of man and woman.
I wish that I could say that I get into our surrounding mountains here in East Tennessee more often than I do. We are indeed blessed here with the beauty of God’s creation. But, even if I cannot get away for a hike too often, I am pretty consistent about taking my two dogs for a walk at least every other day if not every day. For a few minutes I step out from the office, I step away from the computer and from the Internet and facebook, I let go of whatever project is occupying my thoughts and I am able to be with my dogs and enjoy the beauty of the day and creation. When I do this I am always better for it. Creation and its structure and laws has a way of putting things right, speaking to the truth and depth of who we are and refreshing the soul.
In today’s gospel (Mk. 10:2-16) when our Lord is asked if it is lawful for a husband to divorce his wife he turns to creation when he gives his answer.
But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are not longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.
This “turn to creation” on our Lord’s part is not an aside nor just a nice rhetorical device. To truly understand marriage one must look to the laws of creation itself. Marriage is not rooted in the laws of governments that come and go nor is it ultimately founded in the social values of any given time which, it must be acknowledged, are often biased toward the powerful and oppressive of the weak and poor. Marriage even precedes the foundation of the Church herself, whose relation to marriage is that of steward and not creator. Marriage, the union of man and woman, originates in creation itself. It is even such a high display of love that it is presented as an image of God’s love for his people and Christ’s love as bridegroom for his bride, the Church.
That the two shall become one flesh testifies (probably more powerfully than anything else) to the reality that communion lies at the very foundation of human existence and human vocation. This is a needed witness, if not the most important witness, to our day and age which is so dominated by a self-centered and self-seeking approach to human existence. Marriage lived even in the struggles of human weakness yet open to God’s healing and sanctifying grace, witnesses to that fundamental law of creation that the two actually do become one flesh. A law which can neither be faked nor manipulated because it is linked to truth itself. Life is found through communion, through sacrifice and through love and not through a self-centered and isolated existence.
This Sunday’s second reading from the Letter to the Hebrews (2:9-11) reminds us that when we were lost and isolated in sin and death, God stepped out of his glory and took on suffering for us. In order that, He who consecrates and those who are being consecrated all have one origin. (Notice again the use of the imagery of creation and origin.) Our origin is God, a communion of Persons, who spoke forth creation in love and who let go of his glory in love that we might have life.
In the love and sacrifice of communion we are rooted and we are fulfilled. It is written into the very laws of creation and into creation being sanctified by grace.