Friday of Pentecost 19 – Mark 10:2-16

And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

10 And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11 And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

13 And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.

No, she would not be coming back. She knew what “they” would say. Her pastor had not seen in her in church since her divorce had been made public. Their marriage had been strained for some time. They had made it final. He had dropped by to check on her and urge her to come to worship. He knew that once she did attend a few times, she would be able to keep going, but that first time would be difficult for her.

She was right, there probably would be talk. In fact, not long ago, even though her own marriage was not always good, she would have been one of those to whisper in small groups. She knew what she was talking about.

Do you see the three groups in this reading today? There are the divorcees, the children, and the disciples. But in fact, there are truly only two groups. Jesus had no illusions about the innocence of children. If you have spent any time with children, even little children, you know too.  They are not innocent, rather they are helpless and vulnerable. The divorcees Jesus describes are helpless and vulnerable too. They cannot do anything to fix this situation, not really. Jesus says they are guilt of adultery. Did you notice there are no exceptions cited here? In the Torah, adultery is a stonable offence. Jesus wants them to feel that helplessness before their sin. Not because he wants them to stay there but because he opens his arms to helpless sinners, people who cannot solve their sin problems. Like little children he welcomes them into his arms. The divorcees and the children are the same. Do modern disciples still rebuke them and keep them away and thereby risk the rebuke of Jesus? How I wish that those women who would have talked had instead come to visit this woman in her grief and heartache, shared their own struggles and their own grief. How I wish that they had invited their friend to come with them so that each of them could take their own broken lives to confession and absolution in that church.

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