FOR HUNGRY ADULTS, SOULFOOD. Oct. 7, 2012.
‘He should have gone to Specsavers!’ That would be true of the (imaginary) reader who was stumbled through a public reading from St. Paul, and came out with ‘Husbands revere your wives…em, em..em.. Wives, reverse your husbands!’
When you cannot assemble that piece of furniture or equipment, and don’t have the foggiest notion how things fit together, there might come the moment when you just sit on the floor, amid all the bits and pieces, and say ‘Gimme the bloomin’ Manual!’,- or words not as mild, even.
Sometimes, in the great complications that are human relationships, when things everywhere seem to have gone astray, and people ‘have lost the plot’, it might be some help for a little while to go back to the ‘Manual’, -what has come to us from the Maker.
It seems that some Pharisees came to Jesus, -like some smart guys trying to catch him out- and gave him a puzzler about divorce and remarriage. They conceded that their leader, Moses, had indeed ‘allowed’ men to draw up letters of dismissal to be given to their wives, if they found something they deemed ‘objectionable’ about them. The poor women, the wives, had no such luxury regarding sending their husbands away. They were not allowed to ‘reverse their husbands’. Then Jesus refers to ‘the hardness of heart’ of the men that Moses had to deal with. They had lost the plot, had lost the dream of the Maker for women and men.
That’s where Jesus then brought them and brings us back to the two
separate but interlinked accounts of the creation of men and women in the first place,- back, that is, to Chapters 1 and 2 of Genesis, the First book of all. In the first account (Chapter 1, verses 26-28), we are ‘made in our own image’ says God, ‘in the likeness of ourselves’; ‘in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them’. And then said ‘be fruitful, multiply, fill all the earth’,- in other words, be united sexually, physically,- and remember that you are made male and female in the image of God! Enjoy your sexuality which is at the very heart of your being human!
From another tradition comes the second account, given to us in our first Reading today, from Genesis Chapter 2, verses 18 to 24. In this, they come to realize that they are flesh of each other’s flesh, bone of each other’s bone, that they are helpmates to each other. And then it says ‘THAT IS WHY… a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two become one body’. The young couple leave their parents’ homes and set up their own, where they ‘cling to one another and become one body’. ‘With my body I thee wed!’ is how you will sometimes (not often enough!) hear it at Weddings. Here, in sexual union, their Word becomes Flesh.
Jesus invites his hearers,- in the Gospel of Mark, it is his disciples, ‘back in the house’- to re-visit the foundation story, above, to see who they are, as men and women,- ‘in the image and likeness of God’, in God’s own image male and female, because God saw that it was VERY good! (Chapter 1, verse 31). In the creation of human beings ‘God saw all that he had made, and indeed it was very good.’ (All the other parts of creation were ‘good’, but the creating of us humans He saw as very good.).
Does that answer our questions about the complications and difficulties of all human relationships? No. But it points us in a direction that , -if our hearts are not hardened and un-teachable as Jesus said to the Pharisees- will give us wisdom, and restore our vision of one another’s dignity. God truly knows that we are fragile, and that we get things wrong, that sometimes we may be un-teachable but at other times we must do the best we can in bad situations. God is the God of Compassion, even while all the times holding up to us the mirror of our extraordinary dignity, and how we might better relate, male and female, young and old.
Jesus won’t take back a single word of his teaching and vision of our worth and nobility, even as he takes us by the hand in our fragile and broken realities. The teaching is hard, but the vision is good.
Time to look in the mirror of our Maker’s face (our Heavenly Father’s face!) and see ourselves immensely loved. ‘A friend,’- a recent poster says- ‘is someone who knows us as we really are, – and still loves us!’ Let’s continue paddling the canoes of our lives in the turbulent rapids of our many relationships, knowing that even if sometimes we get it wrong, the Master is always with us in the turmoil. ‘Do not be afraid, for I am with you!’
Seamus Devitt C.Ss.R.