Can I divorce? Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time – Mk 10:2-16

Jesus’ ministry shifts from the north to the area of Jerusalem in the south. This region was known as Perea. This was on the other side of Jordan from where He had been at Peter’s home in Capernaum. Jesus was to minister there until leaving for Jerusalem shortly before Passion. Scripture tells us that as was his custom, HE TAUGHT.

Once again the Pharisees come to trap Jesus with the hope to publicly discredit his ministry. The question and place chosen is so cleverly crafted that to the bystander this would seem like just an innocent query. But it was not, it was loaded and deadly.

The question concerned the “lawfulness for a man to divorce his wife.” There could be nothing more controversial that this question in Perea which was ruled by Herod Antipas. It was he who had imprisoned John the Baptist for his views on divorce and remarriage (6:17-18) for Herod had married Herodias, his brother’s wife. If Jesus spoke against divorce, it would make Him look bad to Herod.

The Pharisees no doubt hoped such a fate would befall Jesus.  But the issue of divorce  was also   a volatile one in first-century Judaism .There were two schools of thought, one allowing divorce for virtually any reason, the other denying divorce except on grounds of adultery (see note on Matt. 19:3). The Pharisees undoubtedly expected Jesus to take one side, in which case He would lose the support of the other faction. They hoped that the resulting loss of popularity would make it easier for them to destroy Him.

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