27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mark 10: 2-12 or (16)
2Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked,”Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” 5But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. 6But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7‘For 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, let no one separate.”
10Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 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.”
13People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. 14But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 15Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.”16And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.
Pointers for Sunday Homily Reflection
This Sunday’s gospel reading focuses on the theme on Matrimony and its role in entering the kingdom of God.
The theme is introduced through a question from a Pharisee seeking the side of Jesus if it were lawful for a man to initiate and complete the process of divorce since the later interpretations of the law i.e. the giving of the certificate of dismissal to a wife, was allowed during the time of Moses? Very interesting is the reply of Jesus the content of which is thought provoking and is very significant even to these days when matrimony is a boiling issue.
First, Jesus underscores the original design and order of Matrimony. From the order of creation i.e. from the very design of God himself, matrimony is a sacrament of unity. It is a sacrament of oneness of heart, oneness of mind, and oneness of life that is, as a sacrament, the face of unity in God and in the kingdom of God. The union of the complementariness of both sexes (male and female) manifests the complementariness of the Triune God.
Second, Jesus likewise underscores the responsibility of both parties to ensure that matrimony works not only for one party but for both to mutually grow in love, respect, and goodness. Both are to become the face of God’s unity, oneness and communion. Matrimony is a way to holiness and wholeness for both partners “… and the two shall become one flesh. ‘So they are no longer two, but one flesh” (v.8).
Third, because of the beauty of matrimony and the goodness it offers to lead both souls to God on this earth and in the Kingdom of God, Jesus ordains this through a command, “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” One might think that this is a curtailment of human freedom—the freedom of choice– a freedom to be in constant pain, or in total brokenness, a freedom to be in wrenching loneliness for the rest of life. On the contrary, the command is intended for true disciples to live a life of authentic freedom, a freedom in wholeness, in peace, and in mutual growth and maturity.
Fourth, but because of human weaknesses and because of pride, arrogance, self-centeredness “because of your hardness of heart” (v.5) divorce was allowed. But this human concession can never truly heal broken lives, shattered dreams, deep seated loneliness. Jesus in Mark with pointedness compassion, he underlines the pain and more pain parties endure under circumstances of a shattered sacrament of divine unity, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery” (vv.11-12).
Fifth, our gospel reading ends with Jesus once again picking up little children, touching them, taking them up in his arms and blessing them and by contrast ushering advise to the elderly ones “…whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.”
From the literary point of view of Mark, this gospel narrative is again one of the explanations to the child-image conundrum. When the disciples of Jesus were discussing among themselves “Who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus reading their thoughts“… took a child… and said ‘whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me’” (9:36-37).
From this point of view therefore, one who believes and lives the challenge of matrimony allowing oneself and his or her partner to become the face of triune oneness, goodness, mutual love, and works best enough to preserve the sacredness of this oneness is like a child dear to God’s kingdom and belongs to the great ones in the kingdom of Heaven.