Lectio Divina

Friday - Ordinary Time

1) Opening prayer

keep before us the wisdom and love
you have revealed in your Son.
Help us to be like him
in word and deed,
for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

2) Gospel Reading - Mark 10,1-12

After leaving Capharnaum, Jesus came into the territory of Judaea and Transjordan. And again crowds gathered round him, and again he taught them, as his custom was. Some Pharisees approached him and asked, 'Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?' They were putting him to the test. He answered them, 'What did Moses command you?' They replied, 'Moses allowed us to draw up a writ of dismissal in cases of divorce.'
Then Jesus said to them, 'It was because you were so hard hearted that he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation he made them male and female. This is why a man leaves his father and mother, and the two become one flesh. They are no longer two, therefore, but one flesh. So then, what God has united, human beings must not divide.'
Back in the house the disciples questioned him again about this, and he said to them, 'Whoever divorces his wife and marries another is guilty of adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another she is guilty of adultery too.'

3) Reflection

• Yesterday’s Gospel indicated the advice given by Jesus on the relationship between adults and children, between the great and the little ones in society. Today’s Gospel advises us how the relationship between man and woman should be, between wife and husband.
• Mark 10, 1-2: the question of the Pharisees: “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” The question is a malicious one. It wants to put Jesus to the test: “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?” This is a sign that Jesus had a different opinion, because if this was not so the Pharisees would not have questioned him on this matter. They do not ask if it is lawful for the wife to divorce the husband. They never thought of that. This is a clear sign of the strong dominion of men and the marginalization of women in the society of that time.
• Mark 10, 3-9: The answer of Jesus: man cannot divorce his wife. Instead of responding, Jesus asks: “What did Moses command you?” The Law permitted a man to draw up a writ of dismissal in cases of divorce. This permission reveals the reigning machismo of the time. Man could divorce his wife, but the woman did not have the same right. Jesus explains that Moses acted that way because they were so hard hearted, but that the intention of God was different when he created the human being. Jesus goes back to the project of the Creator and denies to man the right of divorce his wife. He takes away the privilege of man regarding his wife and asks for the maximum equality between the two.
• Mark 10, 10, 12: Equality of man and woman. At home the disciples asked Jesus something on this point. Jesus draws the conclusions and reaffirms the equality of rights and duties between man and woman. He proposes a new type of relationship between the two. He does not allow the marriage in which man can command his wife as he wishes, nor vice-versa. The Gospel of Matthew adds a comment of the disciples on this point. They say: “If that is how things are between husband and wife, it is advisable not to marry” (Mt 19, 10). They prefer not to marry, than to marry without having the privilege of continuing to command the woman and without having the right of being able to ask for the divorce in the case that they no longer like the woman. Jesus goes to the very depth of the question and says that there are only three cases in which a person is permitted not to get married: “Not everyone can understand it but only those to whom it is granted. In fact there are eunuchs born so from their mother’s womb; there are eunuchs made so by human agency and there are eunuchs who have made themselves so for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can. (Mt 19, 11-12). The three cases are: “(a) impotence, (b) castration, and (c) for the Kingdom. Not to get married only because man does not want to lose dominion over woman, this is not permitted by the New Law of Love! Matrimony as well as celibacy should be at the service of the Kingdom and not at the service of egoistic or selfish interests. Neither one of these can be a reason to maintain man’s dominion on woman. Jesus changed the relationship man-woman, wife-husband.

4) Personal questions

• In my personal life, how do I live the relationship man-woman?
• In the life of my family and of my community, how is this relationship man-woman lived?

5) Concluding Prayer

Yahweh is tenderness and pity,
slow to anger and rich in faithful love;
his indignation does not last for ever,
nor his resentment remain for all time. (Ps 103,8-9)


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Last revised: 24 April 2008