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Maybe you’ve been married for 60 years or maybe you’ve just been married for a few years.
Maybe you’re thinking about marriage or dreaming about it. Or maybe you could just-care-less. But whatever your marital life situation, it’s always good to step back and ask “Why?” Why him? Why her? Why no-one? And why now?
I’d like to share with you the story of a couple, or three, whom you may think you’re very familiar with. But maybe you’ve never thought of them in quite this light. It all began a long, long time ago, in a place far, far away. . .
Once upon a time, out of His infinite and indescribable love, God created a human being, and named him Adam. Now God and Adam were very close. Everything Adam could possibly need, God provided. He had a magnificent place to live. The scenery was “out of this world.” He had all the food he could ever want, beautiful rivers, with fresh flowing water, gold and gems, life and knowledge. Well, maybe not the knowledge part yet.
And yet God, being, well God, and Adam being man, there was just something missing; a companion, a helper. Sure Adam had the Breath of the Holy Spirit within him, the Word of God in his ear, and the Being of the Father always there to consult with, but there really was no-one just like him.
So, as we all know the Story*, God put Adam to sleep. And in performing the very first orthopedic surgery, God created Eve from Adam’s rib. Now Adam and Eve were the perfect, complimentary couple. You know how, after you’ve been married for a little while, you start answering each others’ questions before they’re even asked. This was Adam and Eve from their very conception, perfect in unity with each other and with God.
Now, alone with God, Adam had life pretty easy. He may have been a little lonely, but when God said, “Eat” – Adam would eat, when God said “Name the animals” – Adam named, and when God said “Avoid that tree” – Adam had no problem avoiding. But like all relationships, once Eve came along the decisions became a little more complicated, because Adam loved both God and Eve with all his heart.
Then one day the happy little trio crashed into a brick wall. Maybe it was because Adam wasn’t protecting her the way he should have. Maybe it was because she inherited a little more of Adam’s hard-headed nature from that rib. Maybe it was an unavoidable challenge from God, but however you look at it, Adam was placed in a most precarious position. Today we might call it “between the horns of a dilemma” or “between a rock and a hard place.”
You see, his beloved Eve stepped over a forbidden boundary. And why, we’ll never know. Maybe it was a wandering eye, maybe it was a weakness of will or a lust for independence, but the deed was done and Adam had just a split-second to decide: “Do I disobey my God, my Creator, the very Breath within me, or do I go down that rabbit hole, hand in hand with my beloved?”
Are we there, guys and gals? Between the over-demanding job in a jobless economy, never seeing our spouse and children; the kid’s daycare, the mortgage, the broken-down or way over-borrowed car? Are we ripped apart from being a healthy family because of the immorality of TV, magazines or the internet? Where do we go? What do we do in a society thriving on “apples,” when we can see that “Tree of Life” just an arm reach away?
You see, Adam chose his spouse, the love of his life, his soul mate, his Anam Cara. Unfortunately, the consequence of that decision was fatal. Adam was so blinded by his love for Eve, that he forgot one very important fact. He forgot that the decision was not between God and Eve, because God was there all along. And God will always be there!
All Adam had to do was to place that decision IN God’s hands. “Oh God, what do I do? You know me like no-one else. This is too hard. Help me!”
You see, a marriage is not just between you and your spouse. A marriage is a BOND uniting you and your spouse AND God as ONE.
Did you ever wonder, what might have happened if Adam didn’t take that bite? Would he have been separated from Eve forever, as he may have feared? I don’t think so. You see, even though that original sin was fatal, God, in His unconditional, merciful Love, still provided a way out for Adam and Eve, and for all of us, through Jesus.
This Sacrament we call Holy Matrimony is not a competition, but a three way union between God, husband and wife. It’s a covenant, a promise of fidelity that no-one can break. It’s a permanent and indissoluble BOND. And it’s the seed formation of a whole new Church. The Catechism calls it the “Domestic Church.” And the world calls it – the Family.
The success and the survival of that family will not be solely dependent upon a dad, OR a mom alone, but upon a dad AND a mom, IN UNION with Jesus. If any one of the three legs of this mystical and eternal union is missing, we’ll always find that the marriage and the family will suffer. But that suffering will never be nearly as tragic, when God is kept foremost in that union.
The marriage Covenant created by the Given Consent of the husband and wife – to love and to cherish and to complement one another, together with God as their foundation, their Rock and their Glue; that covenant was designed to withstand any possible rotten apple the world may throw at it.
You see, unlike our forefather Adam, we must never, never forget that our God is Always with us. He’s the God we learn about in our daily Bible readings. He is the Jesus we come to know through the Mass, the Eucharist and all the Sacraments. He’s the Holy Spirit we experience through prayer and consultation on those heavy decisions. And this is His Church, the Church that we cherish and understand through our Catechism readings and Why Catholic groupings.
With this as our armor, we then share that faithful companionship and wisdom of God with our Spouse, and our children, and our world, because this is our call as Catholic disciples. And if we’re married, this is our call as Priests in the Domestic Church of God.
So when we ask, Why him? Why her? Why no-one? And why now?
We might just recall the psalmist’s words that go –
“Only in God will my soul find rest.” Ps 62:6
And Only with one another will we be so blessed!
Genesis 1 (NAB)
26 Then God said, And now we will make human beings; they will be like us and resemble us. They will have power over the fish, the birds, and all animals, domestic and wild, large and small. 27 So God created human beings, making them to be like himself. He created them male and female,28 blessed them, and said, Have many children, so that your descendants will live all over the earth and bring it under their control. I am putting you in charge of the fish, the birds, and all the wild animals.29 I have provided all kinds of grain and all kinds of fruit for you to eat; 30but for all the wild animals and for all the birds I have provided grass and leafy plants for food, and it was done. 31God looked at everything he had made, and he was very pleased.
7 Then the Lord God took some soil from the ground and formed a man out of it; he breathed life-giving breath into his nostrils and the man began to live.
8 Then the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the East, and there he put the man he had formed.9 He made all kinds of beautiful trees grow there and produce good fruit. In the middle of the garden stood the tree that gives life and the tree that gives knowledge of what is good and what is bad. 10 A stream flowed in Eden and watered the garden; beyond Eden it divided into four rivers.11 The first river is the Pishon; it flows around the country of Havilah. 12 Pure gold is found there and also rare perfume and precious stones.)13 The second river is the Gihon; it flows around the country of Cush.14 The third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria, and the fourth river is the Euphrates. 15 Then the Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and guard it.16 He told him, You may eat the fruit of any tree in the garden,17 except the tree that gives knowledge of what is good and what is bad. You must not eat the fruit of that tree; if you do, you will die the same day.
18 Then the Lord God said, It is not good for the man to live alone. I will make a suitable companion to help him.19 So he took some soil from the ground and formed all the animals and all the birds. Then he brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and that is how they all got their names.20 So the man named all the birds and all the animals; but not one of them was a suitable companion to help him.
21 Then the Lord God made the man fall into a deep sleep, and while he was sleeping, he took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the flesh.22 He formed a woman out of the rib and brought her to him.23 Then the man said, “At last, here is one of my own kind. Bone taken from my bone, and flesh from my flesh. Woman is her name because she was taken out of man.” 24That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united with his wife, and they become one. 25 The man and the woman were both naked, but they were not embarrassed.
1 Now the snake was the most cunning animal that the Lord God had made. The snake asked the woman, Did God really tell you not to eat fruit from any tree in the garden? 2We may eat the fruit of any tree in the garden, the woman answered,3 except the tree in the middle of it. God told us not to eat the fruit of that tree or even touch it; if we do, we will die. 4 The snake replied, That’s not true; you will not die.5 God said that because he knows that when you eat it, you will be like God and know what is good and what is bad.
6 The woman saw how beautiful the tree was and how good its fruit would be to eat, and she thought how wonderful it would be to become wise. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, and he also ate it.7 As soon as they had eaten it, they were given understanding and realized that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and covered themselves.
8 That evening they heard the Lord God walking in the garden, and they hid from him among the trees.9 But the Lord God called out to the man, Where are you? 10 He answered, I heard you in the garden; I was afraid and hid from you, because I was naked. 11Who told you that you were naked? God asked. Did you eat the fruit that I told you not to eat? 12 The man answered, The woman you put here with me gave me the fruit, and I ate it. 13The Lord God asked the woman, Why did you do this? She replied, The snake tricked me into eating it.
14 Then the Lord God said to the snake, You will be punished for this; you alone of all the animals must bear this curse: From now on you will crawl on your belly, and you will have to eat dust as long as you live. 15I will make you and the woman hate each other; her offspring and yours will always be enemies. Her offspring will crush your head, and you will bite her offspring’s heel.
16 And he said to the woman, I will increase your trouble in pregnancy and your pain in giving birth. In spite of this, you will still have desire for your husband, yet you will be subject to him.
17 And he said to the man, You listened to your wife and ate the fruit which I told you not to eat. Because of what you have done, the ground will be under a curse. You will have to work hard all your life to make it produce enough food for you.18 It will produce weeds and thorns, and you will have to eat wild plants.19 You will have to work hard and sweat to make the soil produce anything, until you go back to the soil from which you were formed. You were made from soil, and you will become soil again.
20 Adam named his wife Eve, because she was the mother of all human beings.21 And the Lord God made clothes out of animal skins for Adam and his wife, and he clothed them. 22Then the Lord God said, Now these human beings have become like one of us and have knowledge of what is good and what is bad. They must not be allowed to take fruit from the tree that gives life, eat it, and live forever. 23 So the Lord God sent them out of the Garden of Eden and made them cultivate the soil from which they had been formed.24 Then at the east side of the garden he put living creatures and a flaming sword which turned in all directions. This was to keep anyone from coming near the tree that gives life.