Most times, we would think, when we are in a deep sleep, and someone comes by and takes something from us, it would end in a bad result. A result we certainly don’t like. One we would like to reverse. Like someone breaking into our homes in the middle of the night, heaven forbid, stealing precious items such as family heirlooms, and not discovering our stolen loss until we wake from sleep, eventually discovering the awful news of what took place while we slept. We would feel invaded.
Minus the bad result, the result that will anger and frustrate us, this is exactly what God perpetrated on Adam. After Adam named all the animals that God created, all the birds, the hippos, the pesky squirrels who steal bird seed, the wolf and the cobra; after giving a name to every animal with two legs, four legs, 100 legs, or no legs, Adam was deeply, deeply disappointed. Not because he had to come up with all these animal names – that must have been lots if fun for him. Rather, Adam’s disappointment stemmed from the fact that, among all these animals that we admire and fascinate us so much, he couldn’t find a suitable partner. His suitable partner was not to be found with numerous legs, pretty colors, fancy stripes, tall, big, short, or tiny.
So, God gave Adam a sleeping pill while Adam moped around in paradise, the Garden of Eden. He’s the first one to experience the sadness of loneliness. So, while Adam was sleeping on a comfortable mattress in the holy Garden, and God was wide awake, the Lord entered Adam’s house, the house of his body, the entity that will one day be resurrected, and from Adam’s holy, pure body – for sin had not yet occurred – God “stole” a rib, one Adam could live without, and formed from his personal being the woman that Adam couldn’t live without. The rib was the holy answer to loneliness.
God placed this first woman next to the first man, so that when the first man woke up from his afternoon siesta, and looked intently at this newly formed creature, he said, “Holy Cow! God does good work!” “Bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh.” Thus, God created marriage, “in the beginning.”
To say that Adam became the happiest man on the face of the earth would be a slight understatement. The woman who would be named Eve was his perfect match. The match that God created from the internal organs of the first man in order to light a fire in the heart of him who was made from the dust.
Whenever this Gospel comes up each year in Matthew, Mark, or Luke, this year being Mark, the instinct in today’s time, I have to believe, for most priests and deacons who preach on this reading, is to address the issue of marriage in our culture today, showing how the Scriptures are not outdated, but rather relevant and even refreshing. And, how some Catholics insist loudly and angrily at times that the Church – the Church of Jesus Christ formed in His pure and holy Body – accept other types of so-called marriage that God did not create. There’s one perfect match for him with relation to marriage. And it’s her. And, I am going to preach a few words on Marriage, the Sacrament that God created in the beginning, as Jesus says, but using a couple of the many awesome examples I know about, be it family, friends, or others we meet along the way.
For example, my friends Bill and Robin who live in Spencer, friends I enjoy visiting on some Sunday afternoons. These two were made for each other in God’s mind from the beginning of creation. Not that life is always perfect between them. I told them last week that I will never forget the time I visited them on a Sunday about 8 years ago, and they were ripping at each other for whatever reason. Like, really mad. And they both used me to get at each other. In the presence of all 3 of us being there, he said, “Tell my wife she’s wrong.” And she said, “Tell my husband he’s wrong.” And I’m standing there thinking sadistically, “This is a lot of fun. I think I really like this.” The only person they liked that day was me. It was a good day to be a priest, if you know what I mean.
They eventually got over their squabble that they put a priest in the middle of. It’s been a grace and blessing to watch their marriage grow now toward 35 years.
Another example being the many funerals I preside at for a spouse from the Greatest Generation, where the other spouse literally lost their best friend. Time and time again it seems like God years ago took that World War II veteran, put him into a deep sleep, took a rib from him, and gave him the perfect match, the suitable partner. The Sacrament of Marriage, at the beginning and at the end, is such a beautiful gift to behold. The joys, the deep, deep sadness at loss, the families created, the faith lived out.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus, in regard to marriage and divorce goes back to the beginning, when Adam was lost and lonely, when all the animals in the world were better for meals than for a suitable partner, and where paradise was still paradise, and not a Garden of disobedience. Marriage is much too important to God’s plan for us to settle for 21st century legal minds altering what He created in the beginning. Jesus goes back to the beginning because God came like a thief in the night, invaded Adam’s precious body, and created from him she who gave his life meaning and purpose all the way to heaven.
This Gospel is hard for anyone who has lived through a difficult marriage that didn’t last. The surest way to find joy for those who struggle with the loneliness of Adam is to fully embrace a new spouse. I suggest that new Spouse to be Jesus and/or Mary. Those are the two I’m married to, and I pray, to address the loneliness of Adam in the Garden, that you do the same.
May God bless all couples living in the Sacrament of Matrimony, and call those who are not to that blessed state of life. Amen.