I will begin by admitting that I myself am male, and in the standard ways. To me, women are incredible. I don’t mean they confuse me by their differences from men, or how attractive I find them, or how impressive their skill sets are. I mean that the idea of woman, much as it eludes me, takes my breath away. I really don’t know what woman is, though I feel the biological role of motherhood expresses it beautifully, almost as an analogy (in a similar way, I suspect biological fatherhood is a beautiful analogy of man, though I (as a man) have almost no idea of man at all).
In the Genesis story, Woman is created after Man, from his rib. Perhaps I spent too long accepting this literally, but I believe there is deep truth in this account. I can’t escape the feeling, that there is something primordial about man, relative to woman. Perhaps this is just because, being a man, woman is something special. But I suspect it is more than this.
Woman is created after Adam. In the creation account, perhaps the first thing to notice, is that each day creation is getting better. From just light, we get stars and suns, from just plant life, we get birds, fish, and mammals. Much as you can argue about it being “better”, creation is expanding into new dimensions of its existence, with incredible new possibilities. At the end of this upward progression, God finally creates woman. Yes; I’m suggesting that Woman is God’s finest creation.
And yet, Eve is also from Adam. Man seems to make sense on his own, in a way that woman does not (hmmm… I thought I had “almost no idea of man”…). To use my earlier “analogy”, fatherhood is conceivable without motherhood, but motherhood is inconceivable without fatherhood (pardon the pun), and in a certain way, I feel the same may be true for man and woman. That being said however, it was looking at man sitting on his own, that God said for the very first time, “It is not good…”
With trepidation, here is my suggestion: Man is the ‘wholeness’ of humanity, but woman is the ‘perfection’, though in such a way that men aren’t comparatively imperfect or women comparatively incomplete. The seed contains the wholeness of the tree, but the fruit is its perfection; yet it is ridiculous to claim one is more wholly or perfectly the tree, or that one is greater than the other. Having said that, I prefer ‘perfection’, and I prefer fruit.
Jesus, Mary, and the Church
I will further suggest, that this is why it was fitting that Jesus be male (and consequently both priesthoods, old and new covenant), so that the wholeness of humanity is embraced in him. By his life, death and resurrection, Jesus taught us what it is to be human, and is truly the most wholly human of all.
With regards to Mary, she is the most perfect creature of all, and the one most perfectly redeemed. In her, we see the perfection of humanity, yet not in such a way that she is “more perfect” than Jesus.
With regards to the Church, the Bride of Christ and our mother, its role is to bring to completion and perfection the work of our Lord Jesus. It is, after the example of our other mother, Mary, to bring Christ forth, to the end of the earth. I think it’s for this reason that Mark titled his gospel, “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God”, as the good news is still happening in the work of the Church, “the Lord working with them and confirming the word by the signs that accompanied it.”
I hope you’ve found these thoughts insightful at all. Pope Francis said, “We have to work harder to develop a profound theology of the woman”, and I hope I’ve helped, however little. I ask for your honest criticisms and corrections, because I know how incomplete my thinking here is, and how important the subject is.
Thank you for reading, and God bless you