Mk 10:2-16 or 10:2-12
“This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.”
Ten years ago, I wasn’t brave enough for Genesis, chapter two.
While thumbing through my parish’s liturgical guide for wedding planning ahead of my 2012 nuptials, I remember my gaze falling on this Sunday’s first reading — the excerpt from the second chapter of Genesis.
“Nope,” I thought. “Definitely not. Next, please.”
The image of Eve crafted from the flesh of Adam has been so often misconstrued and misunderstood, both by those who would deny the equality of the sexes and those who would accuse the Church of doing so. I was concerned with what the non-Catholics on my guest list would think of the Church (and, I will admit, of me) if words like “this one shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken” were read aloud at my wedding.
But a decade of marriage has shown me that this Scripture passage is not about subservience at all, but about belonging — and not just belonging within a marriage, but within the entire Body of Christ. The concept of belonging can be almost as controversial as sexism can. We don’t like to think that we belong to anyone else, that we need them and they need us. It’s not easy to need someone and to be needed in return. It’s inconvenient. Sometimes, it even feels undignified.
The funny and wonderful thing about sacramental marriage is that it is a reflection, in miniature, of the human family itself. In the simple challenge of facing daily life at the side of your spouse, so much is revealed of how we interact with other people: how we live with them, how we love them, how we honor them and how we don’t.
Marriage shows you the places of connection to other people that you didn’t even know existed. It’s a crash course in how the choices you make with your physical body — with your voice, with your actions or with the lack of them, with something as insignificant as the way your face looks when someone else is talking — can make another person feel safe, affirmed, and cherished.
It can also make them feel threatened, offended, or degraded.
Earlier this month, when the Supreme Court declined to block a Texas law banning abortions after the child has reached six weeks’ gestation, I saw my social media feeds erupt in a fight about ownership, autonomy, and responsibility. People everywhere pontificated on where one person ends and another begins.
All this discourse made me think of Genesis. It made me think of what marriage and “the rib of Adam” has taught me about the human family. “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.”
Marriage showed me how woefully inept I am at looking at any particular situation and thinking, before thinking anything else, “How can I ensure the good of the other? How can I best take care of this person?”
Belonging, after all, brings with it accountability — another reason it can be an uncomfortable state. If I am flesh of my husband’s flesh, I must be concerned chiefly with his welfare. He must do the same. He and I must die to our own desires when they conflict with the good of the other.
But I — and he — must do the same for the unborn child. We must do the same for that unborn child’s mother. We must do the same for the widow, the orphan, the refugee, the worker, the immigrant, the medically vulnerable, and the homeless veteran.
As I said, I am woefully inept at it. But when I read Genesis, I see why I must keep praying for the grace to embrace the ways in which I belong to the other members of the Body of Christ, and the ways in which they belong to me.
Colleen Jurkiewicz Dorman