In the Gospel this week Our Lord speaks about marriage. “What God has united, man must not divide”. When we think about marriage we should remember therefore that it is God bringing the couple together for marriage. At the altar it is the couple who show they understand God’s will for them by conferring the Sacrament of matrimony on each other. The priest or deacon is the witness before God.
The Church has given us, as the First Reading, the creation of “the woman” as a “helpmate” for the man. The man had given names to all living things but no helpmate had been found for him. “So the Lord God made the man fall into a deep sleep. And while he slept, he took one of his ribs and enclosed it in flesh. The Lord God built the rib had taken from the man into a woman”. I find this one of the most powerful episodes in the Bible: the man exclaimed: “This at last is bone from my bones, and flesh from my flesh!” The man, who is to be called Adam, finds “at last” another human being on earth. When we come to think about marriage, or indeed any human relationship, we might start by valuing the “other” as another human being – just as worthy of being loved as ourselves. It is in the valuation and respect for the “other” that we find our own true humanity and begin to live out our purpose in life.
We sometimes experience the temptation to allow our own goals to obscure the value of the other person or other people in our lives. This can threaten any relationship including marriage and we know that marriages have fallen apart because of that. God brings two people together because he loves both of them equally and wants them to be happy together. It is the fundamental truth of our existence that by giving ourselves we find ourselves.
Thank God that the temptation of selfishness, which causes us to drift away from love, can always be overcome by God’s greater love, seen in the person of his Son, and the grace that we receive in the sacraments: Matrimony for the married of course, but also the Eucharist, empowering us to live for God and each other daily, and the sacrament of Reconciliation, when we seek the forgiveness of God for selfishness and are enabled to love truly again.