‘The two shall become one flesh....They are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate...” — Mk 10:8-9

The readings we proclaim this Sunday remind of us of two basic facts:

•  first, that humankind is created, male and female, in God’s image and likeness;

•  second, that there is a basic complementarity between male and female because of this fact.

The human being is created in God’s image and likeness. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains: “Christ, in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of His love, makes man fully manifest to Himself and brings to light his exalted vocation.”

It is in Christ, “the image of the invisible God,” that man has been created “in the image and likeness” of the creator. It is in Christ, redeemer and savior, that the divine image, disfigured in man by the first sin, has been restored to its original beauty and ennobled by the grace of God.”

The catechism states further: “The divine image is present in every man. It shines forth in the communion of persons, in the likeness of the unity of the divine persons among themselves.”

Beautifully, the catechism explains: “Endowed with ‘a spiritual and immortal’ soul, the human person is “the only creature on Earth that God has willed for its own sake. From his conception, he is destined for eternal beatitude,” and “the human person participates in the light and power of the divine Spirit. By his reason, he is capable of understanding the order of things established by the creator. By free will, he is capable of directing himself toward his true good. He finds his perfection ‘in seeking and loving what is true and good.’”

The human being, despite the very real presence of sin coming from our first parents in original sin, is fundamentally good. God the Father chooses to save humankind by becoming one like us in all things but sin through the taking on of flesh (incarnation) of the second person of the most blessed Trinity.

The epistle we proclaim this Sunday (Heb 2:9-11) reminds us of this.

We read in Genesis (12:18-24) about the creation of woman. Eve, as she is to be called, is created by God out of Adam, and is “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” Woman is made of the same stuff, if you will, as man, yet is different, and that’s alright! Different does not mean better or worse! The woman is created to be an equal partner to man.

However, original sin places this barrier between God and humankind and, within humankind, between man and woman. This is what is at the root of the difficulties Jesus describes in Sunday’s Gospel (Mk 10:2-16).

Sin is, at its essence, a threefold alienation: between God and the human being, between human being and human being, and within the human being. This struggle is seen in the conflict between man and woman, with one seeking, even implicitly, to dominate over another.

Jesus, who is the wisdom of God, takes the natural desire man and woman have for each other for companionship and raises it from a natural level to a supernatural level in the sacrament of marriage. It is not the priest or deacon who “marries” the couple; the true ministers of the sacrament are the bride and groom. The clergyman only acts as an officiant for the Church.

True Christian marriage is not an antiquated custom, but a recognition of the dignity of the human being, male and female, created in God’s image and likeness. It is all about the husband and the wife, in the life and love they share, seeing and being Christ to one another.

In a true Christian marriage, with a proper understanding of husband and wife, neither male nor female seeks to dominate or manipulate, but to recognize in each other the image and likeness of the God who loves and sustains them and, in the love they share, seek to engage in the work of the creator and redeemer.

Pray for a greater understanding in the Church and culture of the beautifully complementary roles of husband and wife, and for a greater understanding of the sacrament of marriage. It is the one original blessing not washed away in the flood, and it is what sustains and propagates the human race, as the nuptial blessing in the Order of Christian Marriage teaches us.

Praise God for creating us, male and female, in His image and likeness. Praise God for creating us male and female. Praise God for giving us the sacrament of marriage.