Then the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." Genesis 2:18

There are two creation stories in the Book of Genesis. In the first story man and woman are created simultaneously; the second story says that they were created at different intervals. Today’s Old Testament reading is based on the second account of the creation story. The stories are not to be taken literally, they are told to remind us that God is the Creator of everything that exists.

Today’s reading says that after God had made man he came to the conclusion that it was not good for man to be alone.  God remedied the situation by making a woman to be man’s companion. "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." A ‘helper’ in the Old Testament does not refer to subservience; the ‘helper’ might be someone of greater or superior status to the one who is being helped. The creation story does not say that women are inferior to men; the story does not deal with the status of persons. It is a story of relationships; it teaches we are relational beings. We are in relationships with persons.

Today’s Old Testament reading recognises and teaches the need for persons to live in community. We were not made to live selfish and individual lives. A person’s full humanity is only realised when it is shared with someone else. It is God’s will that persons live in community and friendship with one another. We were not made to live alone and in isolation.  Genesis invites us to find someone with whom can share our love so that we will not be alone and experience loneliness. It is not good that man should be alone.

We encounter God in our human relationships. We experience God in our relationships. The whole idea of encountering God in our human relationships is encapsulated in Matthew’s Gospel: “`Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”

There are many kinds of human relationships: marriage, the most intimate of all relationships, family relationship, social relationships, business relationships and many other kinds of relationships. Human relationships are important for life and community living. Relationships allow us to share our gifts, help others and contribute to the good of society. Relationships are important for our personal development. The more we interact with others the more we learn about ourselves.

People who withdraw from the community and avoid social relationships are selfish people.  People who attempt to live alone and not to interact with society separate themselves from the unit that God intends us to be part of.  It is God’s will that we share friendship and life in our communities.

The thought “it is not good for man to be alone” has implications for our membership in the church. The church is a community of believers whose members share a common friendship. As such there is no room in the church for individualism and selfishness. Members of the church have a duty to be part of the church’s life and to be involved in its work and ministry. In the same that we cannot separate ourselves from life in the community, so we cannot separate ourselves from the ministry of the church. At the parish level we have an obligation to show our friendship and community spirit by taking part in all that the parish offers for its members spiritual and physical development. Sometimes our human selfishness prevents us from taking an active part in parish life and the potential it has for building good healthy relationships.

Relationships can be a challenge and sometimes they turn sour. Sometimes they lose their sweetness. Relationships experience ‘brokenness’ and estrangement. We have examples in the Bible: Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Saul and David, Barnabas and Saul, just to name a few. Some relationships endure and sometimes they do not. There is no perfect relationship, they all go through moments of tension and difficulty, this is all part of the human experience. Today’s Gospel reminds us that all relationships have the potential for breaking up. Whenever people come together in any kind of relationship there will be unease from time to time. We find it in marriages, in families, in the church, in our places of work and recreation, in our local communities and villages.

What does it take to sustain our human relationships?

The basic principle guiding all human relationships is LOVE. Jesus teaches:”You shall love your neighbour as you love yourself.” The Golden Rule says: “So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.” Paul writes to the Romans: “Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbour has fulfilled the law.  The commandments, "You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet," and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, "You shall love your neighbour as yourself."  Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”
Without love all relationship will fail. The Christian idea of love makes it possible for us to forgive and be reconciled when relationships encounter problems.

Genesis second creation story enunciates the principles of equality, fairness, mutual respect, tolerance, love, forgiveness and reconciliation. Without these relationships will run aground.

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