Gospel, Mark 10:2-16
2 Some Pharisees approached him and asked, 'Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?' They were putting him to the test.
3 He answered them, 'What did Moses command you?'
4 They replied, 'Moses allowed us to draw up a writ of dismissal in cases of divorce.'
5 Then Jesus said to them, 'It was because you were so hard hearted that he wrote this commandment for you.
6 But from the beginning of creation he made them male and female.
7 This is why a man leaves his father and mother,
8 and the two become one flesh. They are no longer two, therefore, but one flesh.
9 So then, what God has united, human beings must not divide.'
10 Back in the house the disciples questioned him again about this,
11 and he said to them, 'Whoever divorces his wife and marries another is guilty of adultery against her.
12 And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another she is guilty of adultery too.'
13 People were bringing little children to him, for him to touch them. The disciples scolded them,
14 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.
15 In truth I tell you, anyone who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.'
16 Then he embraced them, laid his hands on them and gave them his blessing.
Authentic commitment today is a hard-to-find treasure. It is lost anywhere within the bustling human civilization. We rarely find it being valued in its truest sense within a relationship. Rather today, a massive masquerade sugar-coats simulated commitments and substitutes the real ones. “Commitments” nowadays are contractual, short-lived, conditioned and temporary. If we find real ones, we have to search it in the utmost regions of society where lives are not yet contaminated by the post-modern mind-set of materialism and individualism.
The readings today provide us Christians of this post-modern age with an opportunity to relook and rediscover the meaning of radical commitment in every human relationship, marriage being the relationship par excellence. Beginning to meditate authentic commitment in the context of marriage, our Lord Jesus shows us that being committed is not a simple relating of feelings to the other. Commitment is not a selective attitude over possible choices. Commitment is a gift of the whole person to the other; it is the act of uniting oneself not only in the level of feelings or of intellect. It is the capacity to assume the other to oneself, embracing the other even his defects along with the things which initially attracts us.
The book of Genesis retells the story of man’s first days on earth when he tried to search out for a suitable partner among God’s creatures. He names them and from that act man acknowledges the individual sentient beings’ capacity of relating. But he found none of them that can par man’s level or capacity of companionship. Man cannot make a commitment by personally involving himself to an animal who has only the perfection of instinct. It cannot par man’s capacity to love. That is why, God has taken from his “own flesh and own bone” the one who could give him the same companionship and commitment to love. From this man’s existential need, God created “woman”; she is the person who equals man’s capacity to love and to make this primitive commitment on the face of the earth meaningful and indeed God-like.
Realizing how God founded and endowed this relationship with his own initiative, man must therefore look back to this first moment as the principle of every relationship. Commitment, in order to be truly authentic must be founded in love which God has bestowed in the bond of conjugal commitment. Thus, we must respect marriage as an institution which only God can break and no man can split apart; it is also an epitome of every other level of relationship which we are taking up in this life. In the Letter to the Hebrews, the author puts so lovely the act of Jesus’ self-emptying as a way to express real or authentic commitment to his mission. Dying on the cross and taking up the burden of ransoming for us sinners, Jesus was able to reunite the lost children of God. Thus his death is the relinking of the lost commitment of man to God; it is the key to the passage of men who returns to God as their Father. His faithfulness to his mission as savior fills the gap of man’s un-commitment. That is why, in doing so, Jesus calls us his brothers, we who consecrate and being consecrated to the bond of unity which was restored by his death and resurrection.
Now, as he himself offers us a point of reference of this commitment by reuniting what was lost for God, Jesus takes up the ever controversial issue of marriage to profoundly communicate to man the challenge of serious commitment. Now smeared and twisted by the hardness of human heart, marriage lost its real meaning as the symbol authentic commitment and a reminder of God’s loving commitment to his people. Jesus is consistently firm. He upholds the permanence of marriage which only God had founded long before the foundations of the created world. He calls those who modify the meaning of marriage as “hard hearted”, people who refuse to adjust to the Divine Command and expect that the Divine should adjust to their whim. This people who try to attack the foundations of marriage is like attacking God himself and attacking the bond of God’s commitment to us – God’s love for his people. Indeed, Jesus calls those who refuse to heed on the permanence of marriage as hard-hearted because a hard heart is a heart that refuses to love, to accept, to assume and to be one with the other. By attacking marriage and therefore God, these hard-hearted people shut their capacity to openness and decline to assume God in their lives. They are also firm to close a permanent bond between his fellow other thus making commitment a mere “temporary” event which can last until such time when one is tired of maintaining such pseudo-commitments.
Today, the same defiance of those hard-hearted people continued to haunt the institution of marriage and of the rest of divinely-inspired commitment in relationships. A lot of people still challenge the permanence of this commitment. They also try to alter the meaning of marriage. By this, the whole system of life, the moral fabric of society is threatened because if marriage would be deprived from its original meaning set by God before, then, the whole meaning of relationship will crumble with it. All relationships found and draw all its inspiration from the model of marriage which God has set before men as an example of undying commitment of love. If we allow hard-hearted men to destroy marriage and substitute real commitments into false ones, our whole person will live in falsity, too; we will love what is false and, like it, temporary and short-lived, we will not last long. We will crumble with it. Unlike God-founded commitment which is enduring, ours will fade like a passing shadow.
Fray Ric Anthony Reyes, OSA