Thursday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

“It is not good for the man to be alone.” Since we are created in the image of the God who is Love, we too are created to love. True Christian love requires an other: it would be an absurdity to simply say “I love” without indicating a recipient of that love. Perhaps we can say that our heart is filled with love for God, for the world, for the homeless woman in front of the grocery store, but it is an illusion to just say that our heart is full of love in itself.

God sets out to create a suitable partner for the man, in order that he may truly love in a way that reflects God’s love. God does so first by creating various animals and birds. God involves the man, in a dialogical way, in this creation. God creates the creature, and then he brings it to the man to see what he will call it. Of course, there is an infinite gap between God’s act of creating a living being and the man’s creative act of naming it, and yet, it is this analogy, however distant, that J.R.R. Tolkien sees as the ground of proper artistic (sub-)creation by man.

Only a partner who is “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” can truly be a suitable partner, such that the “two of them become one flesh,” and so it is not in any of the birds or animals but only in the woman that the man finds completion. The nakedness of the man and his wife is the expression of a fullness, not a lack. John Paul II observes that in this primordial nakedness, the man and woman see in each other’s bodies the goodness of their being made for one another in love. It is only when we grasp for a “goodness” not intended by God that we have something to hide and so experience nakedness as a violation, for it reveals that which we want to keep hidden. And yet, in the depths of our being, we wish to live in such a way that we are completely revealed to and completely known by another who loves us unconditionally. This other is ultimately God, and he offers us this profound grace in the sacrament of penance (confession).

February 12th, 2015