The Gospel reading for Sunday, the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time, is one much quoted in these days of controversy regarding marriage: regarding same sex-marriage, how to respond to ‘failed’ marriages, how to understand what the purpose of marriage is, how it relates to God’s will, our will, our convenience and so on.
We come to it again, in a spirit of meditation and a desire to know and do God’s will.
Some Pharisees approached Jesus and asked, ‘Is it against the law for a man to divorce his wife?’ They were testing him. He answered them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ ‘Moses allowed us’ they said ‘to draw up a writ of dismissal and so to divorce.’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘It was because you were so unteachable that he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female. This is why a man must leave father and mother, and the two become one body. They are no longer two, therefore, but one body. So then, what God has united, man must not divide.’
Back in the house the disciples questioned him again about this, and he said to them, ‘The man who 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.’
People were bringing little children to him, for him to touch them. The disciples turned them away, but when Jesus saw this he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. I tell you solemnly, anyone who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ Then he put his arms round them, laid his hands on them and gave them his blessing.
We will all notice something in the Gospel, all find a different place of insight, of comfort and quite possible of discomfort. Let me note just three things:
- The contrast Jesus makes between God’s law and the commandment of Moses.
- His recognition that the people are unteachable and that Moses responded with something which may or may not have been helpful (but does not effect God’s law)
- The call to be simple, child-like welcoming of the kingdom of God: letting go of the other expectations, preoccupations so as to be open to, and to welcome, the kingdom of God.
What we note we bring to God in prayer – and its there we find help to resolve our confusions, confront our challenges, find healing for our hurts. In that divine dialogue between Father and his child we are granted a space to grow and learn.
- What do you find in your heart today that welcomes the kingdom?
- What do you find in your heart the seems to close the way?
Image of the creation of Adam and Eve. York Minster. (c) 2007, Allen Morris