Leave, Weave, Cleave – Friday, 7th Week in ordinary time – Mk 10:1-12
Jesus has left Galilee in the north and has arrived in Judea in the south. We are told that crowds followed him and he taught them, “As was his custom.” The mission of Jesus is not marked by a healing ministry but primarily by a teaching ministry. It is through his teaching that he gives us the message of salvation; ironically how far have we swung from this truth.
The teaching that He gives in today’s Gospel was set in the context of a trap that the Pharisees laid for Him. The issue of divorce was one that had sharply divided the Jewish people since Deuteronomy 24:1-4 takes the institution of divorce for granted; it concerns itself only the procedure to be followed when the husband has decided to divorce. According to Jewish law only the husband could institute divorce proceedings though in Roman law even women could, which may have prompted Jesus to make the comment he does in verse 12.
The grounds for divorce in Deuteronomy were vague and at best were described as “some indecency” on the part of the woman. ( note how no such allegation was raised against a man) Hence such kind of vagueness regarding the grounds of divorce led to a much heated rabbinic discussion that had set people in different corners . There was also the issue of the much divorced Herod family and this would have drawn Jesus into direct confrontation with the royal family. Either way Jesus was bound to tick someone off.
The question asked by the Pharisees concerns the legality of divorce and not the grounds for divorce. So Jesus teaches the truth and furthers the demands of discipleship that he has already presented in chapter 9. He now challenges His would be disciples taking their calling to a higher standard. Interestingly, most people fallaciously think that this teaching is only about divorce; perhaps because that is an issue that plagues many marriages today and we want to know what does Christ say. If you let your eyes settle carefully on the text you will realise that Jesus speaks on marriage and divorce.
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