There is an expression in the English language called “Catch 22”, which means that no matter what decision is made, a person is essentially trapped.
In today’s Gospel, the Pharisees asked Jesus if it is lawful for a man to divorce his wife. Whether Jesus answered yes or no, the Pharisees would use His response to entrap Him.
Divorce was allowed in the time of Jesus. The law of Moses permitted it (Deut 24:1), despite the assertion that God despises divorce (Mal 2:16). However, only the husband was able to issue a bill of divorce.
So how did Jesus address the question? Jesus does not respond with a “yes” or “no”. Instead, He referred the Pharisees to the story of creation, where God pronounced that what He had joined together, no one must separate.
Jesus renewed the understanding of marriage. God’s original intention is the true standard for marriage and human relationships. Jesus also acknowledged the mutual belonging of a husband and a wife to each other.
Many couples that I know have tried to live by those Christian ideals, however, some have failed. Our love and prayers go with those who have experienced finding hope in the midst of the difficulty of its hardship as they struggle to find hope in such difficulty. Separation and divorce bring a lot of pain due to the loss of partnership and commitments that the couple has shared.
Although Jesus declares the permanence of marriage, he also shows compassion to those who might have experienced what we call irregular relationships. As Jesus expressed to the accusers of the woman who was caught in the act of adultery, “Let (the one) who is without sin be the first to throw a stone” and to the sinner, “Go, and from now on do not commit this sin again (John 8).”
The Church always extends compassion and love to those who may be in irregular relationships and offers them pastoral sensitivity in inviting them to full sacramental fellowship.
There is new life. There is new love. If any previous bond is found to have been non-sacramental, a new marriage is possible. The separated couples can live the ideals of lifelong fidelity and love to God and with their newfound love.
On top of all Jesus’ teachings about marriage, living the high ideals in life is not limited simply to the marital relationship itself. It applies to all areas of our family life. For example, we should instruct our children to lead an honest and responsible life. We need to train them to strengthen their faith through prayers and participation in the Holy Eucharist and other Sacraments. We need to teach the values of respect and love for others, especially for the least fortunate ones.
We should all strive to set high ideals in every aspect of our lives. However, when we fail, we must ask forgiveness and trust in God’s grace and mercy. We should learn the lessons from our experience and start a new and transformed life. God is a God who continuously recreates. God always opens opportunities for us to live a transformed and joyful life
Our call is to assist all married couples in strengthening their relationships. However, let us be compassionate and supportive in non-judgmental ways to those whose marriages may have ended.