Spirituality of the Readings
Flesh of My Flesh
God did a wonderful job in creating things. Maybe he used a Big Bang, issuing in the universe and galaxies, and … well, whatever. He did it.
First and foremost, God wanted to create a living being that could share in the Trinity’s inmost characteristic, called deep love. For all eternity the three persons in God had loved each other so intensely that they are one.
Unfortunately, in the sequence of creating the world, God made a mistake. Yes. He created the male first (First Reading).
Everyone knows that a man, left on his own, likely will be helpless. He needs company, needs partnership, correction, and sometimes just a lot of forgiveness. For almost all men, this means being with the creature called woman.
But there were no creatures called women in existence. God understood this gradually. Since the Trinity is a relationship of three persons to the point of forming one being, maybe he thought that adding another creature of any type would make the same thing possible for Adam.
So he took scoops of earth and made …
various wild animals and various birds of the air,
and he brought them to the man
to see what he would call them;
whatever the man called each of them
would be its name. (First Reading)
Our reading continues, “ … none of the wild animals proved to be the suitable partner for the man.” Of course not.
So God next made a move that was actually quite smart. Instead of trying to draw a partner out of the earth for the man, as he had with the animals, he spread a deep sleep over the male and removed a rib from him. This he fashioned into a woman.
This new gambit worked. There was a great intimacy between the man and the woman. She was, as the man put it clumsily, “bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh!” In other words, the two were made out of the same stuff—how much closer can you get?
Marriage came next. As the First Reading puts it, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one flesh.”
Centuries went by, millennia really, and there came a popular saying among husbands. “Women! You can’t live with them and you can’t live without them!” I cannot repeat here what women say about males, but it often starts out with, “MEN! … ” and a list of particulars follows.
Sadly, divorce did make its entrance. It had been around for centuries by the time the Pharisees came to Jesus to argue the following: “Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce and dismiss [his wife]” (Gospel). Jesus reminded them sternly of why God had made both man and woman, not just the one, not just the other. He wanted them to share intimate relationship like the Trinity.
“What God has joined together, no human must separate.”
What if today you find yourself divorced, or alone, or left without your beloved because of death? What if your mate and you do not get along?
Do everything you can. Like the rest of us, you are trying to mirror in your life the loving unity of the Trinity.
And maybe God has a new way for you in your life!
John Foley, SJ