Since our Lord’s words about marriage and the afterlife are so mysterious, I share this reflection for marriage preparation with you. I begin with a short quote from PJPII’s Theology of the Body. It’s title: “Two kinds of solitude”.
We must read the narrations of Genesis in a wider context, which will allow us to establish a series of meanings of the ancient text to which Jesus refers to in Matthew 19 (in the beginning it was not so). Today, we will reflect on the meaning of man’s original solitude. …It is important to note that when…[God] speaks the words about the first man, ‘Adam, in Hebrew, he is defined as “’is” (the Hebrew word for mankind or human nature in general, not as male, the opposite of female. So God’s words about man’s solitude are in reference to the solitude of “man” as such, or “man” as in all of mankind and not just to that of the male. (cf. PJPII Message of Oct 10, 1979)
My CCD students will remember me talking about this in class. But, allow me to unpack this insight of Pope John Paul II. The story of creation has two senses of the human experience of solitude. We are all aware of solitude, but we miss a great insight of the Bible if we equivocate this solitude of Adam with our universal feeling of being alone.
We can all feel lonely when we are separated from our friends. We can feel alone when we are away from our loved ones. And almost every single person feels a sense of loneliness that yearns for the companionship of a person of the opposite sex. People preparing for marriage rejoice in a new found friendship that heals this radical sense of loneliness. It is part of the excitement of thinking about the future and feeling that you have solved one of life’s great problems. You rejoice because you can look towards your future and feel that you will never be alone again. If you’re a John Denver fan, it puts the beauty in the lines of that love song: “Come let me love you, let me give my life to you, let me drown in your laughter, let me die in your arms.” What can be more wonderful? What can be more life giving? Right? Well, almost right.
The Pope is wisely asking us to take the two meanings of scriptural “solitude” very seriously. Indeed, when a man falls in love with a woman, he conquers one aspect of his human “being alone”, his solitary existence. But the Pope points out that ‘Adam, as he lived in the Garden of Eden before Eve is created, represents all of us, male and female.’ Adam is in paradise with God. Man/woman can be solitary without the romantic anxiety of not having a human lover. Man/woman, in the garden before a spouse is created is alone but not lonely because he has God, his Creator to love. There is therefore a solitude defined, as “man without God” just as real as “man without woman”. It is a kind of loneliness that is not overcome even by the coming together in marriage. This is at the heart of the very common problem of feeling lonely even in marriage. This is why, everyone who marries, should realize, that there is a loneliness that cannot be “cured” by marriage alone. There is a loneliness that can ONLY be “cured” by participating in God’s Trinitarian love.