October 4, 2015
The liturgy essentially deals with the relationship of people and God. By the word of God, we are guided and instructed to live the life that would strengthen this relationship. It is beneficial and providential that the liturgy periodically invites the praying assembly to take a wiser, more sober and sensitive look at the sacred relationship we call marriage. The author of Genesis, 2:18-24, reminds us of the essence of marriage, and Jesus in the gospel, Mark 10:2-16, examines the human rationale for going through the challenges and responsibilities of marriage.
The beautiful story of creation reveals the wonderful truth of the bond between husband and wife. After the creation of man, God observed that “it is not good that man should be alone.” (Gen. 2:18) It is quite amusing when next he brings the animals in turn to him but soon finds out that none of them can be his partner or companion.
Then God cast a deep sleep on the man, took out one of his ribs, and formed woman out of that rib. Then God, like the father of the bride, brought her to the man, who exclaimed, “this at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh, she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man.” Woman’s equality to man is confirmed by the author’s insistence that she is made from part of man, i.e., from the same substance and nature. Man calls her “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” “Bone” implies strength; “flesh” suggests weakness. In this poetic form, ‘bone and flesh’ refer to the total range of human capabilities. The man recognizes and affirms that the woman is the one being in all creation with whom he can interact completely. Therefore, he is no longer alone.
In the discussion with the Pharisees, Jesus directs our attention to the Sacredness of marriage and the permanence of the marriage bond. It was God’s intention that marriage be both Sacred and Permanent. God intended complete unity and equality in drawing men and women together in marriage. “I take you…I promise you…to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.” It is a promise until death, and it is this promise blessed as it is by God’s grace that makes the marriage endure.
It is not without reason the gospel of Mark has people bring children to Jesus immediately after teaching on marriage. Mark wants to show not only what divorce does to an abandoned partner, but also what it does to the children whom God gives and whom Jesus loves and blesses. Children: fruit of marriage, and gift of God.