Children aren’t the only ones who ask questions and want answers. It is part of human nature. Reflecting and positing answers is part of being human too. A key concept in Bible study is etiology: a story that “renders an account” — that is, offers some explanation — of present conditions and circumstances based on past causes. How did the animals get their names? Our first reading posits an answer. Often in the Old Testament, a story will provide an answer to how a place got its name, or where a geological formation came from, like a pillar of salt. Why is it that when a man finds the woman who will be his partner for life, it feels like finding a missing part of himself? Our first reading provides an explanation. For some people, the explanation must be literally, historically true, so they expect men to be
missing a rib (we aren’t). For others, the inspired truth is the important truth: we are part of one another, and for a married couple, that unity is even deeper, a sacrament. We are also part of the earth, formed from its very clay. Harm the earth, and we are harming the source of our existence. Adam may not have been the first zoologist, but this account gives an additional, powerful, inspired message about our relationship with nature. Think of parents naming their child. That is the kind of relationship we are called to have with all of God’s creatures.

Sunday, October 4, 2015