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Marriage and divorce

Gospel Reading: Mt 19:3-12
Some Pharisees approached Jesus, and tested him, saying, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?” He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male and female and said, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one flesh.

Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” They said to him, “Then why did Moses command that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss her?” He said to them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.”

His disciples said to him, “If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” He answered, “Not all can accept this word, but only those to whom that is granted. Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.”


Jesus has already made it clear in the Sermon on the Mount that divorce is against God’s will. So the question of the Pharisees is to find out if there is a negotiating room in the will of God. The Pharisees are probing to see if there are cracks in Jesus’ resolve. The main issue at stake is whether Jesus’ view of God’s will includes the possibility of compromise, of cutting corners with heaven.

“No,” Jesus replies. God makes no deals. Because of human hardheartedness, Moses may have cut a bargain, but God will not adjust the divine will. It is God’s will that human relationships be holy and abiding, that marriage be steadfast, that a man leaves his parents and be joined to his wife, the two becoming one until death do them part – no compromises.

In the light of this stance of Jesus, the Church is called to live in that volatile tension between God’s uncompromised will and the realities of human frailty. In regard to marriage and divorce, the Church should strive to live now as a people of the Kingdom of heaven, gratefully holding marriages to be places of sacred, steadfast, and unbreakable trust.

The Kingdom of heaven constitutes an urgent, uncompromising call to a new way of living.

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SOURCE: “366 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.