MARK 10: 1-12: Jesus came into the district of Judea and across the Jordan.
Again crowds gathered around him and, as was his custom,
he again taught them.
The Pharisees approached him and asked,
“Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?”
They were testing him.
He said to them in reply, “What did Moses command you?”
“Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce
and dismiss her.”
But Jesus told them,
“Because of the hardness of your hearts
he wrote you this commandment.
But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.
For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother
and be joined to his wife,
and the two shall become one flesh.
So they are no longer two but one flesh.
Therefore what God has joined together,
no human being must separate.”
In the house the disciples again questioned Jesus about this.He said to them,
“Whoever divorces his wife and marries another
commits adultery against her;
and if she divorces her husband and marries another,
she commits adultery.”
Today’s Gospel struck me in a interesting way in light of the long debate back and forth on facebook and my blog regarding Lila Rose and the people from Live Action and their tactics in exposing Planned Parenthood’s illegal, criminal actions (on top of the horrific evils we already knew they committed in the killing of innocent babies in the womb)
Reading today’s Gospel, we see this is more than just a question on marriage and divorce. The Pharisees were trying to set Jesus up. Did he really know the law? Did he know what Moses had said, what had been accepted and allowed? Jesus’ response shows that yes, he knew all the technicalities that had crept in – but why was that? Jesus is blunt – that was a result of “the hardness of your hearts…” Jesus who has come to redeem, to sanctify what has been corrupted by sin, comes to do that for every aspect of God’s creation…including the law. He’s bringing the law to it’s original intention, it’s fullness.
And what does that fullness look like – that fullness is found in the Law of Love. Which is what we’ve been hearing the last two Sundays at Mass in the Gospels. For example, the command not to commit murder isn’t limited solely to the physical destruction of another life – the law of love includes the destruction of ones reputation through our gossip and talking behind someone’s back. In today’s Gospel, that point is reiterated by pointing out that, yes, you can find instances where divorce is “permissible,” but Jesus is asking, “Is that really a good thing?” While divorce may, under certain limited conditions may be permitted, does it reflect the perfection of heaven?
Jesus is pretty definitive in his answer. While many things might be permissible, or we can argue some justification for them, not all of them show the perfection of love that God desires. As Catholic-Christians, Jesus calls us to walk the “narrow road,” to try to achieve that perfection, as difficult as that may be. Despite how often we fail in our attempts at it (which is why he is generous in his loving forgiveness) that doesn’t mean we stop trying to achieve that. To strive for that higher standard.
So to bring this back to the current debate, Lila and her colleagues at Live Action readily describe their tactics as “lying” as a means to expose even more evil actions of Planned Parenthood: One might find comfort in certain scriptural quotes as justification for those actions, but I can’t imagine that we will see an end to the horrendous evil of abortion, will only happen through the power of Jesus Christ, coming through faithfulness to the Gospel of Life, and our striving to live by that harder, higher standard that the Gospel calls us to.