Self-donation depends on self-acceptance and self-acceptance depends on self-awareness.
The old truism is still true, “You cannot give what you do not have.” Shakespeare wrote that knowledge maketh a bloody entrance. Self-knowledge can maketh even a more bloody invasion. We can think we know ourselves pretty well until we meet someone who just might know something about us we didn’t know.
Good friends, and especially married couples, do not really give themselves to each other as a donation. That would presume that there was complete self-acceptance. What is explicit in marriage is the promise to give each other experiences of waking up to each-others truths. One cannot accept what one does not know. Lovers say that they will give the gift to each other of self-awareness, as much as possible.
Friends also say that they will accept the other’s struggle to accept what they are learning about themselves. Here’s the pay-off. The more there is acceptance of the self, the more there will be the generous offering, or, donation to the other in the relationship.
God’s grace gives us the awareness of who we are and aids us in accepting who we are. This is a slow process of course and God is patient. This spiritual journey is meant to, little-by-little free us for more freely offering us as a graced-gift to God’s people. We will want to give what we have accepted even though there will always be more to learn about the mystery of ourselves.
There are many jokes and one-liners which come from today’s First Reading. “The two become one and the rest of their lives they work out which one they will be.” “God put man asleep and gave the woman to fruitlessly and eternally try to wake him up.” This reading is too serious for jokes however.
The early chapters of Genesis have many stories attempting to explain God, creation, human beings, and community order. It is somewhat like the authors are painting a huge picture of how things were and why they are not now and how the picture got cut up into puzzle-parts, and what is God going to do about all that.
Genesis seems to satisfy the human desire to have basic, “Big Questions” answered. The whole question of how everything came to be and why this and how come that? One big question gets answered in our First Reading. No, it is not why man was created first! Actually it is a micro-creation narrative within the second creation narrative of Genesis. Why there are two creation stories in the first book of the bible is a good one and has a good answer which I do not have room about which to write, just trust me. God created all living things, but the highest creation is the human person. This person was presented with all the other forms unlike his own and was dissatisfied. God saw this dissatisfaction, as God saw everything, saw it as “good”. Yes, that is what I meant to write! God saw that human beings would search for completion, satisfaction and saw this searching as “very good”.
In fashioning “woman” God gave the man a closeness to himself, but just not quite, and this form of separation or distinctiveness would form the framework for the real meaning of human love; a revelation of God’s love, but not a substitute or replacement for that love. They will “cling” to each other, embracing their physically-different bodies, while their search for true union continues toward God. Longing is a blessing and God’s love desires us to experience finite love as so many ways to put the puzzle back into its original union. In short, Genesis is the story of the necessity for order in relationships and how God is working things out.
The Pharisees have a “big question” for Jesus in today’s Gospel. Divorce is the topic, but the question is intended to provoke Jesus into countermanding the Law of Moses. Jesus answers by going back before Moses by quoting lines from our First Reading for today. The trap which the Pharisees set failed. We do not hear any more on the topic. There is a little discussion afterward in the house however.
Jesus finishes His teaching in the presence of His disciples. Divorce, that is the arbitrary dissolving of a true union in marriage is against the order of things. The puzzle continues being broken by divorce; marriage is the commitment to bringing that union closer. This wonderful and interesting discussion is broken up when mothers and fathers are bringing their children to Jesus. The disciples desire to continue this interesting conversation, but Jesus becomes upset and invites the children to come to Him to be touched, blest and welcomed. These teachings on such hot topics as the importance of union in community, are difficult. The children represent the simplicity of heart and mind, needed on the part of those who would be a part of the “kingdom” or new order which Jesus was initiating.
I pause to insert a quotation meant to stimulate, confuse, and accept.
“There is not a woman in the world, the possession of whom, is as precious as that of the truths which she reveals to us by causing us to suffer.”
Now if I had written that myself I would not have used the word “possession”, but rather the “reception of whom”. Also, the personal pronoun is interchangeable. So now that we have that out of the way, the important words remain. “Truths” and “Causing” and “Suffering” are heavy concepts. Those differences about which we prayed earlier are so important. These differences are what both attract and cause “suffering”. Henry Higgins, in My Fair Lady sings plaintively, “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?” He does not like the suffering his love for Liza Dolittle is causing him. The “suffering” is change, growth, manhoodness, sensitivity, and basically his humanness. He, and we, would rather grow laterally and pretend the growth is profoundedly.
Marriage and any true loving relationship between a woman and a man is a gift from God which keeps on giving. A loving relationship, and especially that blest in Marriage, is a covenant of continuing God’s creation. The two commit themselves to bringing forth life within the other. They say “Yes!” I will assist God in creating, but not completing, you. I will accept your assisting God’s creating of me. I will accept the process of suffering you will cause me in the process of God’s creating me through you.
This is how God intends to put the puzzle together with all these strange-appearing pieces with various angles and dents. Jesus, by blessing the little ones, invites all of us to lives of “growing up” and “growing-within””. Little ones love what’s new, different, and puzzling. These readings are not directly a denouncement of divorce, nor a statement about the necessity for everyone to marry. The readings are about God’s ways of creating us and the necessity of our being available to all these ways.
“The Lord is good to those who hope in him, to those who are search for his love.” Lamentations 3, 25
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