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Marriage and divorce


Gospel Reading: Mk 10:2-16


THE Pharisees approached Jesus and asked, “Is it lawful for a hus­band to divorce his wife?” They were testing him. He said to them in reply, “What did Moses command you?” They replied, “Moses permitted him to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her.” But Jesus told them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this commandment. But from the begin­ning of creation, God made them male and female. 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.” In the house the disciples again questioned him about this. He said to them, “Who­ever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.

And people were bringing children to him that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not pre­vent them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not ac­cept the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” Then he embraced them and blessed them, placing his hands on them.


Reflection: Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?

Many marriages today end up in separation, aban­donment of a spouse, or divorce. There are many reasons for the breakdown of the union: abuse and violence, humiliation and exploitation, infidelity, indif­ference, financial difficulties. The Church teaches the faithful to respect the sufferings of families and to have a special discernment and care for them. But the Church does not allow divorce. Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation on Love in the Family states: “The Christian community’s care of such persons is not to be considered a weakening of its faith and testimony to the indissolubility of marriage; rather, such care is a particular expression of its charity” (Amoris Laetitia, 243).

In the Gospel, Jesus points to the original plan of God for man and woman. The book of Genesis shows that woman is made from the “rib” of man (cf 2:18-24). Created in God’s image and likeness, man is des­tined for deep communion and commitment with his own kind.

That woman is made from the “rib” of man does not mean that she is inferior. Rather, it portrays their complementariness, the deep union between man and woman. Man is not complete because a part of his “rib” is in the woman. Both find “completion” in a personal relationship of love, not in domination or control.

The Jews point to the Mosaic Law in Dt 24:1ff to refer to the divine permission to divorce. However, the purpose of that law is not so much to allow divorce as to limit the dire consequences for the woman once her husband throws her out of the house; she has the right to be given a “decree of divorce” so she can marry and have protection again. Jesus says that peo­ple are “stubborn of heart,” that is, by their constant rebellion against God, it is becoming more and more difficult for them to live up to the original plan of God and be open to religious values.

Jesus comes to bestow on believers a new heart and a new spirit and to restore new order in creation; hence, he reestablishes the original plan of God: “What God has joined together, no human being must separate.”

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SOURCE: “365 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.