In today’s Gospel, Mark 10: 1-12, a crowd gathered around Jesus and, as usual, He uses this opportunity to instruct them. In that crowd are Pharisees who are following Him, not to hear His instructions, but to test Him. Jesus is direct with them when they question Him about divorce and reminds them that Moses allowed divorce because of the “hardness of your hearts.” When I am harassing Jesus for an answer to my questions, is it that I am unaware of the hardness of my heart and that I am not honestly seeking the Lord but looking to be justified, trying to prove my superiority, my self-righteousness.? Are my motives questionable?
Jesus reminds the Pharisees that, “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.” How profoundly beautiful! How significant the graces of the sacrament of Matrimony that empower a man and a woman to commit to one another “in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, to remain faithful in their love for one another, to work through the difficulties they encounter in their marriage, relying upon the Spirit to counsel them, guide them, enlighten them and strengthen in living out their marriage vows.
What about those persons whose marriage ends in divorce? What about those who commit adultery and are unfaithful to one another? Jesus does not condemn these persons, as we learn in His response to the woman who is dragged in front of Him and whose accusers are ready to stone her. Jesus confronts her accusers and says to them: Those of you without sin cast the first stone. All walk away and Jesus says to the woman: Has anyone condemned you? She says “no”. His reply: And I don’t condemn you either. Go and sin no more! Jesus is challenging her and her accusers to learn from the mistakes they have made. Likewise, He challenges us to learn from our mistakes and to move on to living in accord with God’s law of love and forgiveness, honesty and humility, fidelity and truth.