Asking the Right Question Week 3: Why Male and Female?

(October 3, 2021)

Bottom line: Our bodies contain a language. They speak to each of us about complementarity and self-donation.

I begin with a health update. On Friday I had an appointment with a vascular surgery specialist. I will be having an operation for my abdominal aneurysm. First, I will need a CT Scan so the surgeon can determine whether it will be a simple or more complex operation. I will keep you posted via Flocknotes.

As you can imagine I've been reading up on abdominal aortic aneurysms. It turns out they strike men four times more often than women - one more way that men and women are different. Jesus refers to that difference today. Responding to a question about divorce, he says, "from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female."

Jesus should know. He was there at the beginning. As Paul says, "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible..." (Col 1:16, cf John 1:3)

The question for us this week is: why did God make us male and female? It's clear it did not happen by accident. It forms part of God's eternal design. Pope St. John Paul speaks about "the nuptial meaning of the human body." Our bodies, he says, have a language. The language of the body indicates that we are equal and complementary. Our bodies fit together like pieces of a puzzle. Our bodies speak the language of self-donation - total self-giving. That's why Jesus says,

For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother
and be joined to his wife,
and the two shall become one flesh.
So they are no longer two but one flesh.

This is a difficult teaching. It always has been but today we live in an extremely mixed up society. We want to present this teaching without judging. You and I have plenty of our own sins. We desire to accompany fellow sinners without compromising Jesus' clear teaching. For Jesus human sexuality is sacred. It's meant for the life-long union of holy matrimony. And this union is a sign - a sacrament - of the union of Jesus with his bride, the Church.

All of us have some sense that our sexuality is sacred. We can see that in the MeToo movement. For a man to reduce a woman to the level of an object is deeply disrespectful and damaging.

To guard sexuality as something sacred is difficult. A man called to matrimony must dedicate himself to one woman, to the exclusion of sexual intimacy with all others. Celibacy, the unmarried state, involves renouncing sexual intimacy while recognizing the importance of other forms of intimacy, for example, brother and sister, friendship, and above all spiritual fatherhood and spiritual motherhood. These forms of intimacy, which can be very deep, can only exist if the unmarried person renounces sexual intimacy.

This is something we want our youth to learn, especially in our United Youth Group and in our confirmation preparation. It's not easy. We live in a porn saturated society. We are weak and easily fall. Thanks be to God, when we turn to Jesus he gives strength to get back and start walking the right path. Every Christian is called to chastity. To quote the Catechism: Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy. (#2339)

So where does this leave us? This is the final homily in our three week miniseries on asking the right question. We've seen several questions. The biggest one comes from Jesus himself: who do you say that I am? And we asked about suffering: what's the meaning of Jesus' suffering and how do we join ours to the cross? Last week we asked whether our lives really matter. We saw that Jesus teaches that our decisions have consequences, eternal consequences - for good or for bad. So what we do with our bodies really does matter.

We'll see that more clearly next week when we begin a new series. We will explore the "end game". The series has a Latin subtitle. Latin is far from dead. When I got my medical diagnosis it contained a bunch of Latin words. There's some things you can say best in Latin. We'll see that next week.

For today we ask, why did God create us male and female? We saw that our bodies contain a language. They speak to each of us about complementarity and self-donation. Following God's plan brings great benefits as we see in today's Psalm:

The LORD bless you from Zion:
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.
May you see your children's children. Amen.


Spanish Version (Word document)

From Archives (26th Ordinary Sunday - Year B):

2018: The Money Trap
2015: Discernment of Spirits Week 5: Keeping Focus
2012: Spiritual War
2009: Gehenna
2006: Whoever Is Not Against Us
2003: Giving and Taking Scandal

Other Homilies

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.

Other Priests' Homilies, Well Worth Listening:
Fr. Frank Schuster
Fr. Brad Hagelin
Fr. Jim Northrop
Fr. Michael White
Fr Pat Freitag (and deacons of St. Monica)
Bishop Robert Barron

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MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru