OCTOBER 3. Ord Time B. Wk 27. Sun. Mk 10. 2-16
Some Pharisees approached Jesus and asked, ‘Is it against the law for a man to divorce his wife?’ They were testing him. He answered them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ ‘Moses allowed us’ they said ‘to draw up a writ of dismissal and so to divorce.’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘It was because you were so unteachable that he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female. This is why a man must leave father and mother, and the two become one body. They are no longer two, therefore, but one body. So then, what God has united, man must not divide.’ Back in the house the disciples questioned him again about this, and he said to them, ‘The man who divorces his wife and marries another is guilty of adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another she is guilty of adultery too.’
People were bringing little children to him, for him to touch them. The disciples turned them away, but 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. I tell you solemnly, anyone who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ Then he put his arms round them, laid his hands on them and gave them his blessing.
The attitude of the Pharisees to Jesus is well known as he was “interfering” with the rules they had made, and the following of the Law, but today we are clearly told their motives in pursuing him; - “They were testing him!” They wanted to show his teachings were in opposition to that of Moses.
But Christ new the law of Moses! It was given in a different time when women were being abused, and Moses devised a way they could be set free from such circumstances. Christ knew this and told the Pharisees “It was because you were so unteachable that he wrote this commandment for you!”
Because they were unteachable! They would not listen! God’s Law had been made very clear from the beginning; - in Genesis; - “A man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife; - and they become one flesh!” But the leaders of the time were unteachable!
So, Christ made it clear; - “This is why a man must leave father and mother, and the two become one body. They are no longer two, therefore, but one body. So then, what God has united, man must not divide.” All Christ was doing was restoring the original teaching!
And there is an important reason for this teaching; - apart from being the Will of the Creator, namely, the needs of the children! Marriage is designed with the purpose of creating souls; - a co-operative goal between God and his people; - which is why God demands faithfulness! Children are its primary purpose; - not the pleasure and convenience of those who marry!
And is it coincidence that in today’s reading Jesus moves from teaching the fundamentals of the Sacrament of Marriage to the importance of children? “The disciples turned them away!” no doubt because they were seen as “not as important as adults,” a view that angered Jesus.
“When Jesus saw this, he was indignant” and he said to them; - “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is too such as these that the kingdom of God belongs!” Children are the purpose of marriage, and also models for anyone wanting to enter heaven; - as “anyone who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it!
Gospel Acclamation 1 John 4:12
If we love one another,
God will live in us in perfect love.
First reading Genesis 2:18-24 · - A man and his wife become one body
The Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helpmate.’ So from the soil the Lord God fashioned all the wild beasts and all the birds of heaven. These he brought to the man to see what he would call them; each one was to bear the name the man would give it. The man gave names to all the cattle, all the birds of heaven and all the wild beasts. But no helpmate suitable for man was found for him. So the Lord God made the man fall into a deep sleep. And while he slept, he took one of his ribs and enclosed it in flesh. The Lord God built the rib he had taken from the man into a woman, and brought her to the man. The man exclaimed:
‘This at last is bone from my bones,
and flesh from my flesh!
This is to be called woman,
for this was taken from man.’
This is why a man leaves his father and mother and joins himself to his wife, and they become one body.