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March 1, 2019: Friday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time [I]

Reading Sirach 6:5-17
Gospel Mark 10:1-12

“Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?”

The narrative in today’s Gospel passage, inasmuch as it corresponds to Matthew 19:1-9, is the springboard from which Saint John Paul II began his series of reflections titled “Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body”. This revolutionary series is often commented upon, but rarely read. Even less often read are the words of Jesus at the end of today’s Gospel passage.

Divorce is commonplace in our society. Many claim that it’s a “necessary evil”, while others see it as a positively good choice or option. However, Jesus is very clear. Divorce and remarriage is morally equivalent to adultery, with the difference being that while adultery is a mortally sinful act, divorce and remarriage is a mortally sinful state.

Nonetheless, Jesus puts this condemnation within a positive context. He explains why marriage cannot be dissolved by any human person. To claim the power to dissolve a marriage is to claim power over God. To claim this power is to deny the essence of marriage: that two have—through God’s design and power—become “one flesh.”