This is a challenging Gospel today, and each time it comes around in the Sunday readings I know that those who have found marriage a deeply challenging reality may find the words of Jesus particularly difficult. If this is you, I want to assure you that the Church welcomes you with great warmth.
We hear from the writer of the Book of Genesis that “It is not good for the man to be alone,” Nor is it good for the woman or the child. Our fundamental human need for the love of another is written deeply within us. Jewish law allowed divorce, and so the Pharisees’ questioning of Jesus was not a search for information, no, they were trying to trap him, to see if he would criticize the Mosaic tradition and thus place himself at odds with the people. Jesus was not caught in their trap; he did not find fault with Moses. Instead he acknowledged the tenuous nature of human relationships, and he pointed to divorce as a concession, not the ideal. Jesus elevated marriage to a Sacrament that is permanent, in order to protect vulnerable women and children, who under the old law could simply be disposed of as if they were chattels.
Why was the woman made from the rib of the man, not from another part of his body and not from the earth as Adam was. The ‘medieval’s’ contemplated this question; perhaps it was to remind the man that the woman was to remain closest to his heart. Lets pray this weekend for marriage, for a strengthening of the Sacrament of marriage and for a deepening understanding and compassion for those whose marriages have not survived. That God, the author of this great expression of love, might be invited into the lives of all people.