Originally, in Deuteronomy, Moses permitted a man to divorce his wife based on some “uncleanness”, in order to protect the woman’s rights. In Jesus’ day, the stricter and more popular view of divorce taught that a man could do so for any reason, even if he found another woman to be more beautiful. Was the climate then, very much different from that of ours now?
In today's gospel, rather than debate the issue of indecency, Jesus addresses the hardness of people’s hearts. He explains that unless we invite God into our marriage, we marry for all the wrong reasons. God emptied Himself and His Spirit to us so utterly; we find it hard to comprehend. Should Love in any personal relationship call for anything less? The capacity to do so, results from a call to a close relationship with Jesus in the Spirit.
In dark contrast, the majority of today’s marriages in our imperfect world end in divorce. I witness this daily when divorced or separated parents call, seeking help to keep their kids at our institution. As much as I try to console them, I know there is nothing I can say to ease their pain. Divorce causes God deep sorrow. In our Church, the issue of divorced and civilly remarried Catholics is a painful pastoral problem.
Yet St. Paul felt the preservation of peace is a greater value than the preservation of an unpeaceful marriage. How many of us, from personal experience or know of someone, who spent more than half of their adult life working dutifully on their marriage only to watch it crash and burn. As sorrowful as that can be, it is also hopeful when people can move on to a place of diminished pain and hope for new life.
By Janine Kuile