(Reflection on 27th Sunday Yr B. Gn 2:18-24, Heb 2:9-11, Mk 10:2-16)
When I first came across the readings of today, my mind centred on marriage. It was a good topic, rich and easy to get by. However, I wasn't too excited talking all about marriage to a congregation of married and singles, who were not seated for a wedding. While battling with this dilemma, two questions from the first reading obstructed my flow of thought: 1) Why was it that Adam himself never complained of being alone, but it was God who identified Adam's loneliness and solved the problem for him? (cf Gen 2:18). 2) How can God declare Adam alone in the midst of all the beauty, resources, animals, trees, etc of the Garden of Eden?Reflectively, God as Trinity of Persons is the source of communal living. The implication of God identifying man’s loneliness is that human togetherness, the family, my neighbour—comes from God as a gift. This gift forms part of God’s plan for man’s completeness and happiness. On the other hand, it is obvious that God created man with a latent inclination to companionship. This inclination appears open ended. Then comes my neighbour, ‘‘flesh of my flesh’’ (Gen 2:23). With this, the question of man’s inclination for companionship finds its immediate answer. This answer finds its most concrete expression in the human family (cf. Gen 2:24). Immediately we observe that the moment the human person begins to turn away from his family, ‘my neighbour’, ‘flesh of my flesh’, alienation and loneliness set in.
However, inasmuch as God himself implanted this inclination for completeness, human companionship cannot fully resolve it. It is fully resolved only in God. Therefore, the moment man begins to separate himself from God, he experiences a deeper alienation and loneliness, which in turn affects his capacity to establish genuine and lasting communion (cf. Gen 3:10-12). Isn’t this what played out at the fall of Adam and Eve?
Jesus, the New Adam, goes ahead of us to form a new human family. He sanctifies and brings to perfection our broken human communions, forming us into one family, one stock with Him (cf. 2nd reading). Jesus comes down to us, made lower than the angels (cf. Heb 2:9) to lead us as one family with Him into that perfect union and completeness which becomes the bedrock of our human communion. So in Christ Jesus we are able to build up our capacity for genuine and lasting union. Then we need a docile heart to receive Jesus like little children (Mk 10:14-15).
Here we find the root of divorce. It comes from a stubborn heart (cf Mk 10:5); a heart unlike that of a child! The ingredients that cook divorce are prepared in a heart that is not docile to the friendship that Jesus offers. The broken humanity must go back to God in order to go back to one another.
The second question almost answers itself: 'my neighbour' has no alternative. The Human need for companionship, solidarity and support cannot be replaced by pets, trees, wealth, etc. Unless we embrace one another in love, we remain lonely even in the midst of all the wealth of the earth. And such loneliness bespeaks of fear and vulnerability. Engrossed with material wealth, the human person may live in delusion of false completeness (cf Ps 49).
Dear brothers and sisters, we must wake up to a renewed appreciation of our families and one another as God's gift. But this is just the beginning. We must grasp Jesus' hand of Communion to achieve the completeness that our souls desire, and to overcome fear and remain secure. Communing with my neighbour gives concrete expression to that inner quest for transcendence which the grace of God makes possible.
Fr. Jude Chinwenwa Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R
St. Michael's Catholic Church,