Greetings to All,
This Sunday, our gospel reading is the beginning of the chapter ten of the Gospel of Mark. We will walk with Jesus in the next four Sundays through this chapter which is the last journey of Jesus takes with his disciples to Jerusalem. Through this final journey, Jesus is taking the opportunity to teach his disciples some hard lessons. The gospel passage of this Sunday is a first of those lessons. We hear an interesting encounter between the Pharisees and Jesus. They come to Jesus and ask “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” Mark indicates clearly to us the intention of the Pharisees is not to honestly seek Jesus’ insight into this matter, but rather to test him. They want to catch Jesus saying something they can use against him.
However, Jesus did not blink. In spite of the intention of the Pharisees, Jesus gives us a profound teaching on the most important friendship that is the union of a man and a woman in marriage. This relationship is the most concrete sign of God’s love. It is the model of our relationship with God.
It is very interesting to notice that often in the gospels Jesus is presented as taking a much more relaxed attitude to the Jewish Law than the religious leaders of his time. For instant, Jesus is much less strict about the Sabbath Law; Jesus heals on the Sabbath, He allows his disciples to pick corn on the Sabbath …which would have been a violation of the Sabbath Law.
When it comes to marriage and divorce, however, Jesus seems to have taken a stricter position than the religious leaders of the day. The Pharisees understand, from the Book of Deuteronomy, that a man could divorce his wife, although a woman could not divorce her husband. This was the interpretation of the Law at the time; it left women very vulnerable in that society. Jesus, however, goes beyond the Book of Deuteronomy to the Book of Genesis and quotes God’s original plan, that a man and a woman who become one flesh in marriage should not go their separate ways. His vision of marriage was of a faithful relationship which reflected God’s faithful relationship with his people. This relationship is so sacred and unifying that no human being can separate what God has brought together.
In reality, we are all fall short of the glory of God. As a result, some relationships for many different reasons, do not last. When this happens, people have to manage their lives and find love as best they can. We can certainly never judge. Yet, in faithfulness to the teaching of Jesus, the Church holds up the model of marriage that come through the pages of scripture and the vision of two lives becoming one in a self-giving love.
This teaching of Jesus is not only applicable to marriage couples, but to all of us. God designed us to live together, and He designed us to love one another. But all of us are sometimes deficient or slack in our relationships with other people. We eventually and inevitably will put ourselves first in some ways in our relationships with other people. This is something that leads to divorce, this is also something that leads to sibling rivalry and broken friendships.
This is the human predicament of our sins. This problem can’t be fixed just by disciplining ourselves. We need to be rescued. We need to be forgiven. We need to be restored. This is why Jesus comes. He comes to give us life in him where we learn how to love God and others more than we love ourselves. He comes so that we can live together with him in the Kingdom of God where we all share the same love with God and with one another.