Genesis 2:18-24

The Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helpmate.” So from the soil the Lord God fashioned all the wild beasts and all the birds of heaven. These he brought to the man to see what he would call them; each one was to bear the name the man would give it. The man gave names to all the cattle, all the birds of heaven and all the wild beasts. But no helpmate suitable for man was found for him. So the Lord 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 build the rib he had taken from the man into a woman, and brought her to the man. The man exclaimed:

“This at last is bone from my bones
and flesh from my flesh!
This is to be called woman,
for this was taken from man.”

This is why a man leaves his father and mother and joins himself to his wife, and they become one body.
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Hebrews 2:9-11

We see in Jesus one who was known for a short while made lower than the angels and is now crowned with glory and splendour because he submitted to death; by God’s grace he had to experience death for all mankind.

As it was his purpose to bring a great many of his sons into glory, it was appropriate that god, for whom everything exists and through whom everything exists, should make perfect, through suffering, the leader who would taken them to their salvation. For the one who sanctifies, and the ones who are sanctified, are of the same stock; that is why he openly calls them brothers.
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Mark 10:2-16

Some Pharisees approached Jesus and asked, “Is it against the law for a man to divorce his wife?” They were testing him. He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” “Moses allowed us,” they said, “to draw up a writ of dismissal and so to divorce.” Then Jesus said to them, “It was because you were so unteachable that he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female. This is why a man must leave father and mother, and the two become one body. They are no longer two, therefore but one body. So then, what God has united, man must not divide.” Back in the house the disciples questioned him again about this, and he said to them, “The man who divorces his wife and marries another is guilty of adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another she is guilty of adultery too.”

People were bringing little children to him, for him to touch them. The disciples turned them away; but when Jesus saw this he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. I tell you solemnly, anyone who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Then he put his arms round them, laid his hands on them and gave them his blessing.
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Contrary to what we might think, the divorce rate in Jesus’ time was probably as high as it is now. In fact, marriage in the Roman Empire was not common. Roman emperors actually had to decree that men should marry, because the marriage rate was so low. Men preferred to stay single and enjoy a life without commitment. In addition, abortion was frequent, so was infanticide, contraception, and homosexuality. In other words, Jesus lived in a time not so different from ours today.

In the first reading, we see that God gives to the man all the animals in the world to name because he wants the man to find a suitable helpmate for himself. Through a trial and error method, God allows the man to discover that among all the animals in the world, there is not one that is like him and is a suitable helpmate. Then God makes the man fall asleep and fashions him a woman. The moment the man wakes up and lays his eyes on the woman, he exclaims with joy. “At last!” he says, with joy and finding someone that was suitable for him.

No doubt, given the way a man’s body is made, his penis would definitely had stood up at the sight of the woman. Does reading that make you embarrassed? Do you think the man felt embarrassed at it? A good way to answer is by asking a husband, “Are you embarrassed when your wife sees your penis standing up?” Chances are not. Why?

This is because a husband and wife have given themselves completely to each other. They trust each other completely, and they know that they will not be sexually abused by each other. Both Adam and Eve were completely naked, and they were not ashamed of their own nakedness. They were totally free and they had no inhibitions of any kind about their own bodies. They have a kind of freedom about their own bodies that we see in little children who are not ashamed to run around the house naked. They are totally free.

When we profess our marriage vows, we find in the words, a promise that is made freely, without coercion; we find a promise to give ourselves totally to each other, and receive each other totally; we find a promise to stay faithful to each other in this exclusive marriage; and we find a promise to let our love be fruitful.

Sexual intercourse between a husband and wife is the fullest expression of those marital vows. Thus every act of sexual intercourse has to be made freely on both sides, with both partners giving and receiving each other totally, and only to each other, while allowing their act of love to bear spiritual and physical fruits in their marriage. Each act of sexual intercourse between a husband and wife is a renewal of those marriage vows.

Consider your baptismal vows. Do you find in the words that the promise is made freely? A promise to give ourselves totally to God, and to receive God totally in our lives? A promise to be faithful to God and stay faithful? A promise to allow God to work in our lives to bear spiritual and physical fruits?

Every baptism is accompanied by Holy Communion because receiving Holy Communion is the fullest expression of our baptismal vows. Hence every time we receive Holy Communion, we are renewing our baptismal vows. Every time we receive Holy Communion, it has to be a choice that we make freely. we remember our promise to give ourselves totally to God and to receive God totally. Remember Jesus says, “This is my body, given for you.” This is also what a husband and a wife says to each other during sexual intercourse, “This is my body, given for you.”

When we receive Holy Communion, we also remember to be faithful to God, just as God is faithful to us. And finally, we allow God to work within our lives through the spiritual graces we receive when we receive the physical body of Christ. If we agree with all this, we declare it loudly to the priest or communion minister when we say, “Amen!” Understanding this totally changes the way we receive Holy Communion. Each time we receive it, it is almost like, “I’m having sex with Jesus” because I give myself totally and freely to him, and only him, just as he gives himself totally and freely to me, his church, so that our love can produce many fruits in the world.

When we understand that Holy Communion is the expression of our baptismal vows, we can also understand that sexual intercourse between a husband and wife is the expression of their marital vows. In fact, both Holy Communion and Marriage are sacraments. In other words, they are physical signs of Jesus’ love for his Church.

Imagine a husband and wife having sex when they are internally disagreeing about something serious and important. Naturally they would be unable to give and receive of each other totally. That act of sexual intercourse no longer is an expression of the marriage. It becomes a form of disrespect to the sanctity of the marriage because it is a physical act devoid of its spiritual aspect. In other words, it is being used wrongly.

Similarly, when a person disagrees with Jesus and his Church about something serious and important, it means that he is unable to receive God and his Church totally. Receiving Holy Communion in such a state is no longer an expression of his baptismal vows. It becomes a form of disrespect to the sanctity of Holy Communion because it is a physical act of eating the bread devoid of its spiritual aspect. In other words, it is being used wrongly.

It is not possible for Jesus and his Church to be separate, for in his life, death and resurrection, Jesus has married his Church and become one body. He has given his body totally and freely to his Church. As God, Jesus is ever faithful to us, promising that he would be with his Church till the end of time. Through this one-time act of total self-giving, much fruits have been produced. Truly, Jesus’ act was a sacrament, a physical sign of God’s love for his Church. We too can make our marriages a sacrament, a sign of God’s love for his Church.

Even if we have made mistakes in the past, let us from today strive to live a more wholesome Christian life. If we’re not yet married, let us start preparing ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually to make that future marriage a true sacrament.
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Prayer:
Dear Father, today we offer up to you our marriage with our spouse. (For those not yet married, do offer up your future marriage.) Help our marriage to be a sign of God’s love for his Church. Help us to model our marriage after the marriage of the Lamb and his Bride, the marriage of Jesus to his Church. Create in us the desire to have a marriage that is truly an expression of our marital vows. Help us to reflect properly each time we have sex with our spouse, that we are consciously saying “Yes!” to a marriage that is freely and totally given to each other and to God, a marriage that is faithful to each other and to God, and open to producing many physical and spiritual fruits.

Dear Jesus, today we also offer up to you our Christian lives. (For those not yet baptized, do offer up your future life as a Christian.) Help us to live lives that are truly a sign of God’s love for his Church. Help us to reflect properly each time we receive Holy Communion, that we are consciously saying “Amen!” to a life that is freely and totally given to God, a life that is faithful to God, and open to producing many physical and spiritual fruits.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.

- original reflection

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