Today we continue to read from the Gospel according to St. Mark (Mk. 10: 2-16); in the past three Sundays, St. Mark wrote of the private conversations between the Lord and His disciples. Now the opening verse of Chap. 10 mentions that Jesus returns to Judea and resumes his public appearances. Our Priests have given notes that in St. Mark’s Gospel, Jesus uses these moments with his disciples to share insights about the Kingdom of God.
The main item is the Pharisees questioning Jesus about the lawfulness of divorce. During the time of Jesus under certain conditions, divorce was an accepted practice among the Jewish people. The Pharisees use the commandment of Moses to justify the question they asked the Lord.
In his answer, Jesus quoted the Book of Genesis and counters,
“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.”
Jesus describes that Moses made a concession to God’s original intention because of man’s hardheadedness. Even his disciples seek more clarity when they question him further about this teaching. It is in the presence of his disciples that Jesus explains that remarriage after divorce is adultery. This teaching was even more stringent than the teaching of the Pharisees, which permitted remarriage. Further, Jesus further distinguished his teaching by saying this applies equally to both men and women since Jewish culture permitted that only a husband may divorce his wife, and doesn’t allow the other way around.
As always, the readings connect smoothly with the First Reading (Gen. 2: 18-24), wherein we are taken to the story of Creation, particularly on the Creation of Man:
“The LORD God said: It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him.”
At the start, God has already intimated His intentions of our nature and our sexuality. This natural design is part of God’s Infinite Wisdom and must be understood and respected fully. It goes without saying that with these innate qualities come the attributes, desires and tendencies that are by nature associated with being male or female.
In the light of the challenges, distortions and confusions, we should still understand deep inside us that our being masculine and feminine is part of who we are. It can’t be denied that as His creation we should embrace God’s intentions so as to fully understand our very own selves. When we have made that life-turning decision to enter married life, we have to note the nobility of God’s designs. One initial step you can do that effectively is by becoming more open and honest with your spouse. It is noted that this Sunday’s Gospel stopped a verse short of verse 26, which is also relevant,
“Now, both of them were naked, the man and his wife, but they felt no shame before each other.” (v. 26)
This was before sin entered into our first parents Adam and Eve, thus there was no malice, no shame and only oneness. The whole of creation was created for them to see in all its beauty and splendor, themselves included. In their bareness, no clothing, nothing to hide, and from one flesh they became two individuals; in the Sacrament of Marriage, a man and a woman become one flesh. Because we are one, we need to share everything that we have to our spouse and with no secrets hidden.
When you keep some burdens and things from your spouse, that’s when you start isolating yourself from him or her. That’s when you build walls and without your knowing it, these walls create the darkness that slowly separate you from your spouse and your marriage. The family suffers, the children are affected.
The latter part of the Gospel completes the importance of family as Jesus again brings attention to children, one of the intentions of getting married. By welcoming and raising children and introducing them to building a relationship with God, parents and families do their role as the first domestic Church bearing witness to the Kingdom of God.
Finally, the Gospel ends with people bringing their children to Jesus, and again the disciples rebuked them for this. It can be recalled that in the last two Sundays the Lord taught the value of the “little ones” in the Kingdom of God. However, the disciples showed they still couldn’t quite get it and so it made the Lord angry. Again Jesus welcomes the little children and offers them as an example of the kind of mindset that believers ought to have: complete trust and dependence on God.
Let us therefore ask the Lord to make us look deeper at our marriage to make us see whether we are faithful to His intentions. Are we open and honest to our spouse? As Christ’s faithful followers, do we have complete trust and dependence on Him?
‘If we love one another, God remains in us and His love is brought to perfection in us.’ (cf. 1 Jn. 4:12)