(Ordinary Time – Cycle B)
Gen 2, 18-24
Heb 2, 9-11
This Sunday’s biblical readings offer us that which we could call the fundamental of “the Christian vision of matrimony.” The first reading, taken from the second creation account (Gen 2), and the gospel are profoundly related. In both, reference is made to God’s original plan that has created human beings for relationship and for communion, thus “it is not good that the man should be alone” (Gen 2,18). The sublime expression of this vocation is the loving relationship between man and woman, sanctified by matrimony and elevated to the splendor of a full and eternal communion. It becomes urgent to turn to listen to the word of God that is the root of the mystery of love, thus as it is affirmed by the Second Vatican Council, “this happy picture of the dignity of these partnerships is not reflected everywhere, but is overshadowed by polygamy, the plague of divorce, so-called free love, and similar blemishes; furthermore, married love is too often dishonored by selfishness, hedonism, and unlawful contraceptive practices. Besides, the economic, social, psychological, and civil climate of today has a severely disturbing effect on family life” (Gaudium et Spes 47).
The first reading (Gen 2, 18-24), that is taken from the second creation account (Gen 2,4b-25), together with the third chapter of Genesis, offers a wise reflection about the origin, sense and vocation of man and woman of every time and place. This does not treat obviously of a historical narration, but of a vision of faith about the mystery of human beings, considered in the light of a triple fundamental relationship with God, with the world, and with others. The verses that today are proclaimed in the liturgy refer to the third aspect: the aspect of man and woman with their likes. After God created adam, the human being, the biblical text affirms: “It is not good that the man adam should be alone.” The term adam, that is a Hebrew collective noun, does not refer to man or masculine being in particular, but to humanity as existence that has overflowed from the hands of God. The adam is indifferent sexually. The biblical text affirms that this human finds its full sense only in the mystery of the other, of the discovery and the acceptance of the other. Therefore, that which erroneously has been called “the creation of the woman” is, en reality, “the creation of man and woman,” it is the creation of the “other.” Clearly, neither does it treat of a posterior moment in the creation of humanity, but of a relationship to service of an anthropological truth of fundamental value. “Solitude” is judged as a negative, a reality close to death. Rightly so, the psalmist complains in his pain “You have deprived me of friends and companions, and all that I know is the dark!” (Ps 88,19). We could think of the solitude of the leper, having to live outside of the community, of the widow, of the orphan, all biblical symbols of solitude that draws close to death, thus those who live in affliction and abandonment. For this reason, God decides to give to man “an adequate helpmate” (literally in Hebrew: a ‘ezer kenegdo, a “help like himself”). The term ‘ezer means many times in the Bible a necessary help to be able to survive. That is to say, God thinks in something that guarantees the life of humanity. And so creates the other. He intends to create a reality with which the human being may be able to enter a relationship based on likeness, on reciprocity and on dialogue. For this reason, the first element (the creation of the animals) remains insufficient. Man gives the animals names, that is to say, take possession, dominates over creation and penetrates nature’s secrets. But this is not enough. The human being goes on being incomplete.
Afterwards, “the Lord God made the adam fall into a deep sleep (tardemáh)” (v. 21), in a type of death, of fracture of time, that indicates a jump in the quality of the work of God that the adam cannot contemplate. God is going to pass by. Also, Abraham fell into a profound sleep (tardemáh) when the Lord passed in front of him (Gen 15,12). An absolutely new dimension is about to be born. God takes a rib from adam, from living humanity, to make of this humanity a differentiated human being. The space left by the rib indicates the necessity of another, the vocation of being human in transcendence and otherness. With the rib God creates woman (in Hebrew: the issháh), indicating so that this one possesses the same greatness and dignity as the man (in Hebrew: ish). And so here rises up the first differentiation that is at the base of every relationship in society: man and woman. God presented the issháh to the man (v. 22), and man recognized her joyfully: “This at last is bone from my bones and flesh from my flesh! This is to be called issháh (woman), for this was taken from ish (man)” (v. 23). These are the first words of a human being in the Bible. Besides, in the original Hebrew these words are presented with the style and rhythm of a love poem. It is the realization of one’s truth, to which one comes only through the recognition of another as diverse and similar at the same time. The text concludes making reference to sexual attraction and to conjugally living together as good and constitutive realities of God’s original plan for humanity: man and woman “will become one body” (v. 24), called to establish between them a relationships that ought to never be broke and that will overflow into all aspects of the human person.
The second reading (Heb 2,9-11) is a type of Midrash of Psalm 8 that develops a singular theology of the Incarnation. Christ Jesus reaches the fullness of the Incarnation in the passion and then death on a cross. Assuming pain and death for men and women he incorporates them into his own glory and honor.
The gospel (Mk 10, 2-16) belongs to a series of teachings that Jesus gives to his disciples while he journeys to Jerusalem. In the light of the first reading, we center our commentary on the verses 2-12. As in other texts of this section of the gospel of Mark, we can distinguish two parts: a dialogue with the Pharisees outside of the house (vv. 2-9) and a teaching to his disciples upon returning to the house (vv. 10-12).
Outside the house (vv. 2-9). – Everything begins when some Pharisees, that want to put Jesus to the test, ask him if it is licit that the husband separate himself from his wife. These pious Jesus interpret the theme in the light of Deuteronomy 24, 1-3, a text of the Law that contemplates the possibility of separating oneself from one’s wife under the condition of giving her an act of repudiation. Jesus, in turn, remounts the original plan of God in the original accounts of creation, making relative the norm of Moses, established “because you were so unteachable that he wrote this commandment for you” (v. 5). For Jesus, is the most decisive text of Genesis, where the equality of man and woman is affirmed, and speaks of matrimony as a joyful union, faithful and indissoluble between two human beings (first reading). Jesus does not accept a law where man dominates woman and a “macho” norm that permits divorce obtaining for man all rights. Jesus proclaims, on one hand, the mutual responsibility of man and woman in reciprocal love (“God created them man and woman”) and the unbreakable fidelity that marks matrimony (“that which God has united may no one separate”).
In the house (vv. 10-12). – In a second moment Jesus instructs his disciples about the same theme. It is the faithful Messiah speaking, disposed to hand over his life for all. He instructs his won in the light of his journey of loving and unconditional giving. He, the Master, does not reject anyone, he does not exclude anyone, he is faithful until the end with a generous, gratuitous and saving love. Explains to his own the great mystery of equality between spouses, united in a definitive and indissoluble matrimonial union. Only in the light of the cross can the position of Jesus about matrimony be understood. Only he, that was rejected and submitted to death, without rejecting anyone and pardoning without limits, can proclaim a radical negative of matrimonial divorce. Only in the light of Jesus and with the grace of Jesus, man and woman know and experience that faithful love is possible. Jesus, that said yes to God and to men and women, makes possible a “yes” among his own. In the community of Jesus, men and women united by the sacrament of matrimony proclaim with their lives that it is possible to love on another. To love one another in the name of Jesus. To love one another beyond the difference and conflicts of a couple, to love one another through reciprocal pardon and generous dialogue. This is the great gospel of Christian matrimony. A truth and a mystery that Jesus has revealed solemnly to his disciples, to those that believe in him and live united to him.