Friday, March 1, 2019
1) Opening prayer
keep before us the wisdom and love
You have revealed in Your Son.
Help us to be like Him
in word and deed,
for He lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Mark 10:1-12
Jesus came into the district of Judea and across the Jordan. Again crowds gathered around him and, as was his custom, he again taught them. The Pharisees approached him and asked, "Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?" They were testing him. He said to them in reply, "What did Moses command you?" They replied, "Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her." But Jesus told them, "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. So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate." In the house the disciples again questioned Jesus about this. He said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery."
• Yesterday’s Gospel indicated the advice given by Jesus on the relationship between adults and children, between the great and the little ones in society. Today’s Gospel advises us how the relationship between man and woman should be, between wife and husband.
• Mark 10:1-2: the question of the Pharisees: “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” The question is a malicious one. It wants to put Jesus to the test. This is a sign that Jesus had a different opinion, because if this was not so the Pharisees would not have questioned Him on this matter. They do not ask if it is lawful for the wife to divorce the husband. That was not allowed. This is a clear sign of the strong dominion of men and the marginalization of women in the society of that time.
• Mark 10:3-9: The answer of Jesus: man cannot divorce his wife. Instead of responding, Jesus asks: “What did Moses command you?” The Law permitted a man to draw up a writ of dismissal in cases of divorce. This permission reveals the reigning machismo of the time. Man could divorce his wife, but the woman did not have the same right. Jesus explains that Moses acted that way because they were so hardhearted, but that the intention of God was different when He created the human being. Jesus goes back to the plan of the Creator and denies to man the right to divorce his wife. He takes away the privilege of man regarding his wife and asks for the maximum equality between the two.
• Mark 10:10,12: Equality of man and woman. At home the disciples asked Jesus something on this point. Jesus draws the conclusions and reaffirms the equality of rights and duties between man and woman. The Gospel of Matthew adds a comment of the disciples on this point. They say: “If that is how things are between husband and wife, it is advisable not to marry” (Mt 19:10). Jesus goes to the very depth of the question and says that there are only three cases in which a person is permitted not to get married: “Not everyone can understand it but only those to whom it is granted. In fact there are eunuchs born so from their mother’s womb; there are eunuchs made so by human agency and there are eunuchs who have made themselves so for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can. (Mt 19:11-12). The three cases are: “(a) impotence, (b) castration, and (c) for the Kingdom. Not to get married only because man does not want to lose dominion over woman, this is not permitted by the New Law of Love! Matrimony as well as celibacy should be at the service of the Kingdom and not at the service of egoistic or selfish interests. Neither one of these can be a reason to maintain man’s dominion on woman. Jesus changed the relationship man-woman, wife-husband.
4) Personal questions
• Equality in society is always framed in terms of power. Yet, this last week we have read almost every day about service, humility, and welcoming children. Jesus taught us to serve, to be humble, to welcome and care for the children in order to reach the Kingdom of God. It is not for the powerful. Who is closer to the Kingdom?
• In the life of my family and of my community, do we focus on power, or on service and humility as a basis for equality?
• Within community, how important to equality is listening, obedience, and prayer (obsculta, oboedientia, oratio) and what roles and purpose do each of these contribute to equality?
5) Concluding Prayer
Yahweh is tenderness and pity,
slow to anger and rich in faithful love;
His indignation does not last for ever,
nor His resentment remain for all time. (Ps 103:8-9)