Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Loving Thy Neighbor in Marriage

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” So out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh; and the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”

Although we must take this as marriage between a man and a woman, we must nevertheless first look for Christ in this. We know that Jesus is the second Adam, and we that that, when Jesus slept on the cross, His precious side was opened up and the Church was made. God the Father intended that the Son of God Incarnate should not be alone, but should have a helper fit for Him, a wife. Because He was holy, pure, it would be necessary that His wife was also. To show Her the immensity of His love, She would come from His side, flesh of His flesh.

St. Peter instructs us, “…You husbands, live considerately with your wives, bestowing honor on the woman as the weaker sex…[1]  

Husbands are a type of Christ. Who is stronger, the divine being who took on human nature or the

Everything boils down to two commandments: Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. Really, what does “love your neighbor as yourself” look like? Jesus in His Passion, especially the crucifixion. He did not die to save Himself, but to save His Bride, to make her spotless, the Catholic Church. The Church did not die for Jesus; Jesus died for her. The stronger serves the weaker. The weaker vessel returns that love through loving obedience. I liken it to Exodus 21: “If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s and he shall go out alone. But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ then his master shall bring him to God, and he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him for life.”[2]  

Do we not see Christ, the Husband?

I am looking forward to renewing myself for consecration to Mary. The thought occurred to me, “What greater human being is there than Mary?” Jesus is a divine being with a human nature, but the Virgin Mary is a human being. She is the Mother of God; who could be greater? The parent is stronger than the child, and is responsible for protecting, nourishing, and teaching the child. In the consecration to Mary, we are becoming a loving slave to Mary. However, when one contemplates upon it, who is really serving whom? Mary does not need our help; we need hers. In the way that a dutiful child shows its love through obedience, we become this type of “slave” to our Blessed Mother, trusting her to protect, nourish, and teach us, that she will bring us to the fruit of her womb, Jesus. This is “loving thy neighbor as yourself.”

When a man stands before the priest, desiring to marry the woman beside him, he is essentially saying, “Because I love you, I will no longer live to myself; I will only live for you, to elevate you above myself, to protect you, to nourish you—no matter what, no matter what you do nor what anyone else does. Is this not what Jesus does? Does Jesus ever leave His Bride? We may leave Him, but He never forsakes us. We may play the part of the adulteress; but, as in the book of the prophet, Hosea, He goes after us, to bring us back—if we are willing. “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” Is it lawful for Jesus to divorce His Bride?
human being? According to St. Peter, who is the stronger vessel, the man or the woman? It is to the man that St. Paul commands that he must love his wife as Christ loves the Church. This commandment he did not give to the woman.
--Tommy Turner

[1] Catholic Biblical Association (Great Britain). (1994). The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version, Catholic edition (1 Pe 3:7). New York: National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA.
[2] Catholic Biblical Association (Great Britain). (1994). The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version, Catholic edition (Ex 21:4–6). New York: National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA.

This theological reflection courtesy of the parishioners of St Paul Catholic Church in Pensacola, Florida: stpaulcatholic.net