Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle B

Twenty Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

jesus5.jpg

 Mark 10.2-16

“What God has united, man must not divide”

Jesus is asked is it against the Law for a man to divorce his wife. At that time there was disagreement about the interpretation of the Law concerning divorce. Some argued that a man could divorce his wife because of adultery and that was the only cause permissible. Others held a more lax approach, insisting that a man could divorce his wife for any sort of trivial cause that displeased him. With which side of the argument does Jesus agree? In response he goes back beyond the Law of Moses, back to the original creative intention of God and equality of women and men. God made us male and female, intending that “the two become one body”. Marriage is part of God’s design from the very beginning of creation, says Jesus, and “what God has united, man must not divide”.

Jesus’ prohibition of divorce is rooted in a God-given ideal, which demands serious and binding commitment “till death do us part”. It is an ideal that has brought untold happiness to countless couples, an ideal that must be kept alive for the sake of marriage itself, for the good of family life and of society as a whole. Every effort must be made in the Church and in the wider society to uphold the stability of marriage and family, not least through preparation for marriage and overall support for family life. At a time when the very institution of marriage and the sacredness of family life are being corroded, we need more than ever to hold on to the teaching of Christ.

At the same time we have to face the fact that for many people the ideal has not turned out to be the reality. Marriages do break down, and many women and men have had to face the shattering experience that the marriage on which they had staked their future happiness has failed. Their suffering demands from the Church sincere acceptance, compassion and support and provision of pastoral care.