October 8, 2006
Catechist Background and Preparation
Spend a few minutes reflecting on what these readings mean for you today. Was there a particular reading which appealed to you? Was there a word or image that engaged you?
Read the Word in Liturgy and Catholic Doctrine sections. These give you background on what you will be doing this session. Read over the session outline and make it your own. Check to see what materials you will need for the session.
The Word in Liturgy
Our doctrinal focus today on marriage and divorce comes from the gospel teaching of Jesus when he was asked by the Pharisees about the traditional rabbinical interpretation of divorce as permitted by Mosaic Law (Deuteronomy 24:1-4). Instead of answering on their terms—that is, engaging in legalistic disputation regarding divorce—Jesus shifts the discussion to God’s purpose in creation, the lasting union of husband and wife. Jesus portrays the Mosaic Law as a concession to human weakness (v. 5), but then quotes Genesis in support of his assertion that the divine will is for a lasting union between spouses. After this teaching to the crowds, Jesus speaks to his disciples “in the house” (a clue that Mark’s text is now applying that teaching to its own situation). Mark’s text has Jesus speak of the possibility of a woman divorcing her husband, an option not available within Judaism. This evidence that the Evangelist is writing to a Greco-Roman audience where such an option did exist gives us a glimpse into how the early Christian communities struggled to remain faithful to yet apply the teaching of Jesus to their own, somewhat different, situations.
We believe that married couples share by their own fidelity and self-giving to each other in the very love of God. What seems virtually impossible, binding oneself to another for life, is available to us only through the grace of Christ. Thus, the Church prays: “Father, [we] see [our] high destiny in the love of husband and wife….The love of man and woman is made holy in the sacrament of marriage, and becomes the mirror of your everlasting love” (RM, Preface for Marriage III).