Reading 1: Genesis 2:18-24
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm: 128:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6
Reading 2: Hebrews: 2:9-11
Gospel: Mark: 10:2-16 or 10:2-12
Today’s passage from Genesis 2 (vv. 18-24) is a small excerpt from a story that is likely familiar to us all. This passage is often chosen to be the first reading for a wedding Mass. It has also become a part of secular popular culture. We see characters reference it in movies and television shows, and many songs have made use of the story and its imagery. Even people who know nothing about the Bible are often familiar with it. That is how firmly it has been embedded into our culture. This oversaturation can leave us feeling like we know the story inside and out. Then, when we actually encounter it, we might not truly read it. We either think we know it well enough or we are simply bored by the story.
This text beautifully illustrates how deeply connected we are to each other, to God, and to all creation. The first thing we see is that the first human is created from the ground (2:7) and then brought to life when God breathes his spirit into the creature. We will call this first creature Adam, which shares its root the Hebrew word for “ground” – the same ground from which God created the human. After that, God begins to create other creatures from that same ground and animates with the same divine life-breath (2:19). So, we immediately see that we are not only connected to these creatures, but we are indeed related to them. As St. Francis proclaimed, God’s creations are our brothers and sisters.
God sees, though, that Adam still needs a different kind of relationship and connection. So, God creates another human partner for Adam by taking from part of his own body (2:22). The woman is described as Adam’s helper, just as God is described in other biblical texts (Dt 33:7, Hos 13:4, Ps 54:6; 85:5; 118:7). There is no subservience or subordination indicated here, as it has often been misinterpreted. Instead, this text describes the deep connection that God intended all humans to have with each other. The humans are both a part of the earth, as Adam was made from it and the woman was made from Adam. But they are even more so a part of each other because they share the same body and the same life-breath that God breathed into Adam (2:7). They are able to support and care for each other in a way that animals cannot. Marriage is one special way humans can honor the connections God has established between humans, as Genesis 2 emphasizes (2:24).
Christ spent his time on Earth bringing God’s good news to the poor, helping and healing the sick, and teaching us how to love our neighbor. Various saints have sought ways to honor these connections, too, from working with the poor to providing education and healthcare to the marginalized, or by spending their lives performing small acts of kindness and care for everyone they met. Pope Francis especially encourages us to care for creation, an oft-neglected but very important way to honor the connections that God established between humans and creation. All of these ways of living nurture our connections to God because it is through loving and caring for one another that we grow closer to God.
Kate Oxsen, PhD
Assistant Professor of Old Testament Studies