But Jesus told them… from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female… and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” (Mk 10:5-6; 8-9)
First, God made them male and female. Second, God made them to function as one. Third, God made them into a union. Fourth, God made the union indissoluble on earth.
Any craftsman who builds one thing from two parts knows that the parts must be entirely complimentary since only by fitting one part true to the other part can a single new thing be made as a distinct creation. Further he knows that the two parts must be different: they cannot tie together if they are exactly the same; one must “accept” the other. If they are the same, they each remain a “part” existing “apart”. But if made differently yet exclusively for each other, being mutually measured to join together, then they form a unity, a single unit.
Such is the case with the man and the woman and marriage. When we speak of parts here, we do not speak only of physical parts. God made the man and the woman to unite physically as a sign of the fecund love that was to further unite them emotionally and spiritually. Unlike some physical parts in which one receives the other, in matrimony the man and woman receive each other sacredly with full consent and with full commitment praying that God’s grace will be the bond between them.
The male and the female were made by God for each other. Thus they must dispose of all the overused drama, comedy, gossip, and cliché about how men and women can never understand each other. God made them to understand each other and so they must make this their solemn daily labor. They must make every effort to know and admire the other’s traits and to seek out God’s binary wisdom which is an everlasting wisdom still realized in heaven.
To assist us in our reflection upon the man, the woman, and marriage for this 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, we place on our bulletin cover a work by the great Spanish painter, Bartolome Esteban Murillo, entitled, The Marriage of the Virgin (1670). Murillo paints soft, bright and ethereal figures; figures which if not confined to their linear frames might just scatter as dissipating puffs of cloud. Yet, Murillo’s figures behave as reserved as Early Renaissance artists could paint them; except for the additional spiritual sense of the Baroque which draws in our hearts.
Mary and Joseph stand hand-in-hand with no eye contact so that we might meditate on their sincere interior purpose and commitment. A blessing is offered, but the true blessing is that of grace shown by the descent of the Holy Spirit indicating that it is God who joins the bride and groom in one new spirit. The staff of Joseph flowers through God’s approval while other suitors less worthy hold bare rods and branches, one even snapping it for its unfruitfulness. It is fruitless because this man’s heart lacks the full consent and commitment needed for a valid marriage before God. Perhaps he showed up because of a personal attraction. However, that, on its own, validates nothing.
-Steve Guillotte, Director of Pastoral Services