Homily for February 7th, 2017: Genesis 1:20-2:4a.
“God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good.” These words in our first reading come toward the end of Genesis 1, the first Creation Tale. The Bible comes to us from a prehistoric age. Yet the two somewhat different creation tales in Genesis 1 and 2 contain important truth about the origin of our world.
A striking feature of the first tale, in Genesis 1, is the repetition after each stage of creation of the phrase, almost like a refrain: “God saw how good it was.” This tells us that everything that comes from the hand of God is good. The evil in the world comes not from God, but through human sin.
The first thing that God looks at in the Bible and says, “It is not good,” is loneliness: “It is not good for the man to be alone,” we read in chapter 2 of Genesis. In chapter one man and woman are created together, as we heard in today’s first reading: “God created man in his own image … male and female he created them.” Chapter two tells a different story. “The Lord God formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and so man became a living thing.” The creation of woman follows: formed, we read in chapter two, out of one of the man’s ribs. That detail is pre-scientific. But it expresses an important truth nonetheless. Man and woman were not made for rivalry: domination on the one hand, manipulation on the other. They were made for partnership – to complete one another. That is why the second creation tale from Genesis 2 is often used at weddings.
Yet not everyone is called to marriage. There are people who do not find a spouse. And spouses die, leaving the surviving partner alone. And then there are those whom God calls to a single life, as religious Sisters , Brothers, or priests. Are such people condemned to a life of loneliness, called by God himself “not good”? That is what many people assume. They are wrong.
The cure for loneliness is not marriage – for married people too are sometimes lonely. Loneliness comes about because even in the perfect marriage or the ideal friendship (and how many people have found either?) the deepest desires of our hearts remain unfulfilled. There is only One who can fulfill those desires, the One who is love: God himself. We come here day by day to receive his love; and so that we may share that love with others. No one has said it better than
, writing out of his own
experience: “You have made us for yourself, O God; and our hearts are restless,
until we find rest in you.” St. Augustine