2Some Pharisees came, and to test [Jesus] they asked,
“Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”
3He answered them, “What did Moses command you?”
4They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” 5But Jesus said to them,
“Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you.”
This week’s gospel includes Jesus’s teaching on divorce. There’s so much contextually and culturally that surrounds this teaching that it is difficult to find ourselves in it. Except that we probably do.
Divorce is prevalent in today’s society. If we haven’t been divorced or lived between two households or had a single parent, then we will have friends and family who have lived that reality.
The Pharisees come to test Jesus with their question on divorce. They want to expose him departing from the traditions of the Law so as to discredit him. But Jesus exposes the hardness of their hearts. If we had to be honest, most of us have experienced a hardness of heart, too.
Whether we’ve been divorced, are single, or blissfully married after 50 or more years (though anyone who’s been married for very long will tell that marriage is not for the faint of heart), we will have experienced a hardness of heart in one or more relationships at one point or another.
Jesus teachings are hard because they hit a nerve in all of us. It’s the nerve that reminds us that we cannot live up to the expectations we place on others and sometimes upon ourselves.
Where have you felt your heart harden in a relationship, whether with someone from work, a spouse, parent, friend or son or daughter?
What sensations does your body feel when you want someone else to fail or to expose that person’s weakness?
Let us give thanks to Christ Jesus, God in flesh, coming to us with a wide open heart, to all whose hearts have been broken and even to us whose hearts are hardened.
Let us give thanks to God who hears the cries of those who bear the brunt and violence of hardened hearts. Jesus has come to show us that God offers compassion and a place in the Kingdom of Heaven. May our hearts yield to His grace so that we might be purveyors of that grace to those around us.