Sunday reflection with Fr. Robin Gibbons – October 3, 2021

Twenty-seventh Sunday in ordinary time –

In my youth the issue of divorce was still a very controversial issue, being a Catholic and a priest, I was expected to answer questions regarding pastoral care, indicating the party line when asked about it. teaching of the Church, but then showing pastoral support and concern for something that more often than not was irreparably shattered. How different we are now, not only has the issue of marriage been brought up constantly, but we openly discuss issues of gender equality, civil partnerships, same sex partnerships, transgender issues, etc. .

Today my role must be that of a deep listening rather than starting by making the law, the time (even if some think that it still is) is over for the clergy holding the high morality, we do not do it , we have failed in so many ways and we have been surprised publicly, and our feet too are made of the same clay as anyone else, this insight is a good thing.

So, hearing the words of Jesus in Mark declaring, as we understand it in our marriage rite: “Therefore, what God has united no human being must separate. (Mc 10: 9) what did any of us say? Isn’t that the last word?

Well, the answer is “no, it doesn’t” for a variety of very good reasons, the first being our rather appalling habit of choosing scripture cups to strengthen our position or thoughts on a subject. With the scriptures we need to be guided with care, for it is not a book of law, it is not even a book, and the Oracles of God, as we see in the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament also show occasions when a supposedly divine law is changed. I can think of an immediately, circumcision, repealed, changed in the debate between Peter and Paul as in Galatians, there is an example of immutability transformed into change!

In this gospel, the Pharisees probed him, tried to catch him saying something that would cause them to cause a crisis. Hostile to Jesus, they want his death. They therefore chose a very controversial issue, which was to attract considerable public interest, the question of divorce. Jesus is not a fool and he knows his stuff as one might say, he is asked to make a choice between two views that were widely held, the easier teaching of the chief rabbi, Hillel. anything in a woman that displeased her husband could lead to divorce, or to Shammai’s school, which taught that divorce should be strictly limited, that only under certain defined conditions could it be granted. But as always, Jesus takes us beyond this conundrum into the real heart of Divine Law, showing us a much deeper and more important question that we must reflect on for ourselves.

The real problem, the real question, is not divorce; but why should we invest everything in maintaining marriage? It should make us think, look at everything around us, with our very poor record of so many emotional issues in society, in the big differences between religions, the divisions within Christianity, within Catholicism itself, poverty. , the catastrophe of war, the imminent threat of uncontrollable global warming, with all of that, why do we want to enter the arena of marriage?

The point is that for us, family and the bond of marriage refers beyond themselves to the greatest mutual relationship that we need to think about, that of the different layers of care, responsibility and love that we must owe to so many people and living creatures on this earth. We cannot separate ourselves from this commitment. For a very good reason, the faith and the pastoral life are not lived in an abstract vacuum, knowledge, science, all kinds of intuitions must now be considered, we cannot go back to the time of Jesus for a very good Reasonably, Paul and Peter moved us into the Gentile world away from Hillel and Shammai into a larger realm of discernment by Spirit and Fellowship. Pay close attention to the other things Jesus says related to marriage, “eunuchs for the Kingdom”, not to take or give in marriage in the “Kingdom, and lest we forget the eschaton, the end of the world!

It is in this context that we must understand the teaching of Jesus on marriage, Jesus proclaims the end of divorce as the Kingdom is about to break through and will be here soon! John Martens wrote this in an article on ‘A Biblical Look at Jesus’ Teachings on Marriage and Divorce in the November 2016 edition of The America Magazine: Their Vows Perfectly, Largely Because Marriage Itself will come to an end soon. “He goes on to point out that;” Luke’s version (of this story) states that marriage is for those related to this world and not to the world to come, because “those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy of a place in this age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor give themselves in marriage “(Lk 20: 34-35). It shifts a whole bunch of horizons.

But returning to what happened later in the Church, it becomes evident that in the end, personal and pastoral experiences combined with a strong understanding and theology of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit; prayer by the community, decision by the discernment of the assembly; especially in this great debate of Acts, the role of Peter and Paul as apostles, all inexorably lead to a new decision, all underpin Scripture in context! As Martens says: “This (the Council of Jerusalem in Acts) is a fascinating decision, both because it gives us an example of the church making a practical decision about how Christians should live and because that it is the decision which itself leads the Church to be governed less by prescriptions, in this case the very Law of Moses ”.

Before becoming pope, Joseph Ratzinger wrote this:… “there are masterful decisions which cannot be the last word in a given case as such but, despite the permanent value of their principles, are above all also a signal of caution. pastoral, a kind of provisional policy. Their core remains valid, but the peculiarities determined by the circumstances may need to be corrected. (328; The Nature and Mission of Theology, 106) ‘This is a very good quote to think about, it helps us to give pastoral meaning to our living tradition in Christ!


Dei Verbum

Vatican II

8.This tradition which comes from the Apostles is developed in the Church with the help of the Holy Spirit. (5) For there is a growth in the understanding of the realities and the words that have been transmitted. This occurs through the contemplation and study by believers, who cherish these things in their hearts (see Luke, 2:19, 51) through a penetrating understanding of the spiritual realities they experience, and to through the preaching of those who have received the sure gift of truth through Episcopal Succession. For as the centuries pass each other, the Church constantly advances towards the fullness of divine truth until the words of God reach their full fulfillment in her.

10. Sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture form a sacred deposit of the word of God, entrusted to the Church. Holding firmly to this deposit, all the holy people united to their shepherds always stand firm in the teaching of the Apostles, in their common life, in the breaking of bread and in prayers (see Acts 2:42, Greek text), in order to that holding, practicing and professing the heritage of the faith, it becomes on the part of the bishops and the faithful a unique common effort.

From: A Biblical Look at Jesus’ Teachings on Marriage and Divorce

John W. Martens

This is my contribution to a conversation that, frankly, has been going on since the beginning of Christianity. But it is particularly important to stress: nothing happened in the Synod on the Family that changes the current teaching of the Church on the issues of remarriage and communion for divorced Catholics. Yet if so, it will be important to recognize that teaching can and does change on important issues, including marriage and divorce, and already has, starting with the gospel of Matthew. The church is the place of change. And as much sympathy as I have for the Christian Pharisees, who have seen their tradition and understanding of the Scriptures crumble before them, and who have argued, “It is necessary that they be circumcised and ordained to keep the law. of Moses ”, the church decided not to.

Key words: Sunday Reflection with Fr. Robin Gibbons

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