“It is not good for the man to be alone.” When Adam says, “At last flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone,” he is declaring that unlike the other animals in the garden, he and Eve share the same nature, and therefore they are in communion with each other. Communion and community is what underlie the readings today. They are the first family. Jesus’ open hearted embrace of the children mirrors God’s love for humankind and for the Church. The love of the man and the woman depicted in the readings models Christ’s love for the Church. It’s a community. It’s family. I was talking with a man about these readings. He said: “When I was single I slept with one pillow on my bed. Now that I am married, I sleep with twelve pillows – with tassels! When I was alone, I had one bottle of shampoo in the shower. Now I have twenty!” I said to him, “I have never known that experience because I have always been single. All I know is to be alone.” As I reflected on what Jesus is saying in this Gospel about open hearted communion with others, I realized that the opposite is true. In fact, whether a person is single or married is not the issue. It comes down to the heart: Are our hearts open to others or hardened, keeping others at a distance? The way we relate to others is often an indicator of how we relate to God. ‘No man is an island’ is a common and true expression. A UK student once told me she had no religious tradition; she believed that religion is an individual affair. She spent time alone on Sunday meditating. Meditation is good, but it is not enough because Christ intends us to live in community with each other and in communion with Him (the Eucharist). Again Christ embraces the children, right?
I remember when was present at the death of a 7 ½ hour old infant at UK Chandler Hospital. The mother and father together embraced their infant in its last living minutes. The entire extended family was present to offer their open-hearted support. It is the model of the Church, both community and communion with one another–a holy communion.
Pope Francis said last Saturday night at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia: “[H]oliness is always tied to little gestures ... those we learn at home, in the family.… They are the quiet things done by mothers and grandmothers, by fathers and grandfathers, by children, by siblings. They are little signs of tenderness, affection and compassion. Like the warm supper we look forward to at night… Like a blessing before we go to bed, or a hug after we return from a hard day’s work. Love is shown by little things, by attention to small daily signs which make us feel at home. Faith grows when it is lived and shaped by love. That is why our families, our homes, are true domestic churches.” Pope Francis said that these tender gestures are signs of Christ’s presence active in our world. That’s why marriage is holy, a sacrament. Christ is present in acts of love that go out from the family to transform the world; they go out form the family into eternity. Love like this is indissoluble. It remains unbroken for all time and eternity. It is not good for anyone to be alone. No one is alone in the Church. And that’s Good News!