October 3, 2021


A Reflection for the 19th Sunday After Pentecost
Mark 10:2-16 | October 3, 2021

By: The Rev. Sherryl Ann Javier-Bianson
Mission of Krus na Ligas, Diliman, Quezon City

MARK 10:2-16

“Some Pharisees came, and to test Him they asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?’ He answered them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ They said, ‘Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.’ But Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. 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, let no one separate.” 

“Then in the house the disciples asked Him again about this matter. 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.’” 

“People were bringing little children to Him in order that He might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. 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. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’ And he took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them.” 


Today, we hear Jesus’s teaching about relationships, such as marriage and divorce. However, in order for us to understand what this reading says about divorce, we must first understand what marriage meant in ancient culture. Biblical scholar, Bruce Malina, tells us, “Under normal circumstances in the world of Jesus, individuals really did not get married. Families did. One family offered a male, the other a female. Their wedding stood for the wedding of the larger extended families and symbolized the fusion of the honor of both families involved. It would be undertaken with a focus on political and/or economic concerns. Marriage was not a matter of ‘falling in love.’ It was very much a matter of ‘honoring one’s parents.’…. Divorce, then, would entail the dissolution of these extended family ties. It represented a challenge to the family of the former wife and would likely result in family feuding.” (Malina & Rohrbaugh, Social-Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels, p. 240). 

From the beginning of time, relationships have been fragile. This is especially true in marriage where two individuals live day in and day out with each other. At times, the hard work that a good marriage requires may test the strength and the commitment of the two individuals in the relationship. The current reality is that we live in a “disposable” world. Though here in Philippines divorce is not yet a law, but then annulment and legal separation are present. 

It's surely the norm in our day, when divorce (annulment and legal separation in Philippines) seems almost as common as marriage. The world, and sometimes even the church, has lost its commitment to the sanctity and permanence of marriage. Though there may be situations in which divorce is allowed in other countries, Jesus urges us to take marriage as seriously as God takes marriage. 

Taking marriage seriously means, at a minimum, that we join God in disliking divorce, even when it may be allowed (Mal. 2:16). But so much more is required than just this. We who are married are called to devote ourselves to our spouses; to invest the time and energy required to build solid, healthy, and joyful marriages. This isn't easy, especially in today's world. But our commitment to marriage both honors God and enriches our own lives. 

We are aware that all relationships require a great deal of work, be that it is a work relationship, friendship, or kinship. However, with work and friends we do not commit ourselves to that individual for life. It seems that in today’s world, relationships are considered disposable. Yet, there are instances when the healthiest choice for a spouse or a family would be divorce. Most likely this was also true in Jesus’s day. Yet Jesus clearly desires that we give our best and our all to any significant relationship, especially marriage. 

If marriage is what Jesus says it is, then we understand better why failed marriages bring such pain to couples, extended families, and communities, most especially to children. Jesus brings into view the hurt and brokenness that come, even when a divorce appears to be the best among all available options. Jesus’s special concern for children should remind us that they are often victimized when parents opt for divorce. 

Maybe Jesus is asking us to make thoughtful and loving choices; discerning choices. Since we live in a disposable world, our instinct is to move on to another relationship or to look for one who would suit our likes and wants. And this may be the healthiest choice for us. However, one should always remember that when we commit ourselves to marriage we promise to work together in good and in bad times.



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