Gospel of Matthew 19:3-12 Reflection:
Today's Gospel addresses marriage.
When Pope John Paul the Great came to write his massive work, ‘the Theology of the Body’ this piece of scripture is one of those which the Pope uses to explain the Christian concept of marriage.
Obviously there had been some discussion among the Pharisees as to whether or not divorce was legal. As they recognised that Jesus was at the very least a great teacher they put the question to him.
Jesus’ answer shows a lot more than a cursory understanding of scripture. He takes them right back to the beginning, when Adam and Eve were about, and says that it was not in God’s plan that there be divorce. He then explains that it was because of man’s hardness of heart that God permitted divorce in the Law of Moses.
Leaving aside the pros and cons of divorce, this piece tells us a lot about Jesus: he knows what happened at the beginning and he understands the mind of God.
Throughout his life Jesus constantly told us who he was in ways that require faith to appreciate it. God always leaves what he does open to that slight bit of interpretation and yet if we look at the life and words of Jesus with even the slightest bit of faith we can see that he regularly claims equality with God.
This reading is no exception; he says what God meant at the beginning and then he gives the reason why God allowed the change.
There is no doubt that the Pharisees and the Jewish people would have picked up on this. Even today you can read this and say “Jesus does not specifically claim to be God.”
But if you look at it with faith, you see that Jesus is saying quite plainly, ‘I was there at the beginning and I know what caused divorce to be an option.’
Even today it is hard for us to take in when we put it down in direct words like that! But our faith is a person centred faith, it is faith in Jesus as the Son of God who came down to be with mankind.