Sunday, October 7, 2012

Marriage & Divorce [October 7, 2012]

The Sunday Gospel [October 7, 2012]

Mark 10: 2-16

2The Pharisees approached and asked, “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?” They were testing him. 3He said to them in reply, “What did Moses command you?” 4They replied, “Moses permitted him to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her.” 5But Jesus told them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this commandment. 6But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female. 7For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother [and be joined to his wife], 8and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” 10In the house the disciples again questioned him about this. 11He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; 12and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

13And people were bringing children to him that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14When 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. 15Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” 16Then he embraced them and blessed them, placing his hands on them.


“They are no longer two but one flesh.” ~ v. 8

In the Gospel today, the Pharisees ask Jesus what he thought about marriage. Moses allowed Jewish men to divorce. Did he agree with that? In answering them, Jesus excuses what Moses did. Moses only allowed divorce because of the great pressure the Jews put on him. Also, the law that allowed divorce was only given for a time, since the people were not ready for anything more perfect. (Dt. 24:1) However, Jesus tells them what the ideal is. “At the beginning of creation God made them male and female; for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and the two shall become as one. They are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore let no man separate what has joined.”

When the disciples question him later about this, Jesus tells them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and the woman who divorces her husband and marries another commits adultery.”

In Mark, we see Jesus rejecting the idea of remarriage after divorce. In fact, he calls it adultery. He sees marriage not only as a bond between a man and a woman, but also a bond between them and God. This of course requires lifelong fidelity. Jesus’ argument goes back to God’s will, which is engraved in nature. When a man leaves his father and mother and joins himself to his wife, they become one body. (Genesis 2:24)

There are two other points of view, which present a less severe approach to marriage. In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus is seen as permitting divorce in the case of adultery. (Mt. 19:9) Paul’s view (the “Pauline privilege”) was that when a Christian and a pagan marry, if the pagan wanted a divorce, the Christian was no longer bound. (1 Corinthians 7:15)

The issue of marriage and divorce has become complicated in modern society – even more complicated when one considers the way different cultures and various religious groups look at marriage. But, lest marriage be seen as merely a matter between the married couple, it is good to keep in mind Jesus’ views. The ideal is indissolubility. That was God’s original intent. One cannot err in trying to be faithful to that ideal.

Reflection Credits: Fr. John Seland, SVD; New Reflections on the Sunday Gospels

Source: The Reflection is from Bro. Abel Navarro (you can visit his blog at

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