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October 3, 1997     The Message
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October 3, 1997

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14 October 3, 1 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Christian catechesis:.Divorce, remarriage, By FATHER DONALD DILGER Columnist Gospel Commentary for October 5, 1997: Tzventy-Sev- enth Sunday: Ordinary Time: Cycle B: Mark 10:2-16 Under the framework of a journey to Jerusalem, a journey which will be greatly expanded by the Gospel of Luke, Mark instructs his Christian commu- nity on divorce/remarriage and the place of children in the Church. The question centers on divorce, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?" Jesus responds with a question, "What did Moses command you?" The answer, "Moses allowed a man to write a certifi- cate of divorce, and to put his wife away." Although the Torah, here referred to as Moses, never approves of divorce, it recognizes the fact of divorce and regu- lates it. The interpretation given here by opponents of Jesus, that Moses allowed divorce, is based on an interpretation of Deuteronomy 24:1-4, which forbids a man to take back his former wife after he has divorced her and she has married another man. The important clause from Deuteronomy is this: "When a man takes a wife .... if she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a bill of divorce .... "The interpre- tation of the scribes centered on "found some inde- cency in her." There were various schools of interpre- tation of these words. At the time of Jesus the more liberal school was represented by the great scholar Hillel who is reported to have said, "Even if-she spoiled a dish for him, for it is written, 'because he has found some indecency in her...." A century later the scholarAkiba said, "Even if he found anoth- er more beautiful than she, for it is written,'.., if she finds no favor in his eyes .... "' Thus they permitted a man to divorce his wife for almost any reason what- soever. Those who followed the stricter interpretation of Deuteronomy 24:1 were of the school of the scholar Shammai, who taught, "A man may not divorce his wife unless he has found some unchastity in her...." Jesus now responds to his questioners that Moses allowed divorce only "because of your hardness of heart," that it was not so by God's design, since God at creation ordained that male and female become one flesh in marriage, no longer two but one, "What God therefore has joined together, let no one put asunder." Thus for his own Christian community Mark portrays Jesus as absolutely forbidding remar- riage after divorce and bases it on the creation story in Genesis 2:23-24. The problem we have is that in the Gospel of Matthew Jesus is portrayed as following the opinion of Shammai, the more conservative of the schools of thought that allowed remarriage after divorce. Paul also allowed divorce and remarriage under certain conditions. See I Corinthians 7:10-16. In our society of today the school of Hillel is victorious, i.e. divorce for about any reason, but the school of Shammai is making a comeback in some segments of society as people recognize the problems caused by rampant divorce. The Church walks a careful path, not granting divorce but granting annulment of mar- riage after careful study of each case, thus making the best of a difficult situation. According to Mark, Jesus' disciples wanted fur- ther clarification on what clearly went against pre- vailing custom of the time. Jesus reinforces his previ- " ous stand, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she com- mits adultery." Again an absolute prohibition. Luke's church has a similar practice but phrased differently in Luke 16:18. The unique character of Mark's state- ment is that he speaks not just of a man divorcing his wife as in Matthew and Luke, but of a woman ing her husband. This was not the practice in circles, although a wife could force a hUsband to divorce her for certain reasons. Mark's difference indicates the influence of Roman law rather than ish law. Under Roman law a woman could divorce. This difference in Mark is one indication used by scholars to determine the Mark's gospel, the Church of Rome. The second issue in today's gospel is the children in the Church. Mark presents his the form of a story as was the custom. People their children to Jesus "that he might touch The disciples rebuked them, perhaps an invasion of their own territory, perhaps were the only access to Jesus. Matthew and Luke low Mark up to this point. Now Mark adds thing they both omit, that Jesus became very at the disciples. Matthew and Luke omit emotional reaCtions or outbursts of Jesus in Gospel of Mark. They join Mark again in Jesus' ment, "Let the children come to me, for to such belongs the kingdom of God." This been and can be interpreted as permitting the tism of children and their access to of God's grace they can share in the Church. the statement certainly also means is that the dora or reign of God, a free gift, must be received ! with the openness and dell " " gift. That is why Mark adds another saying "Whoever does not receive the reign of God a child shall not enter into it." Mark now closes again portraying an emotional Jesus, who and blesses the children. Matthew and Luke embrace but we prefer a Jesus who can portray by taking a child, or ourselves, into his arms. Readings: Genesis 2:18-24; Hebrews 2:911. Golden Jubilarians Anthony A. and Nadine (Seib) Elpers of St. James will celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary Oct. 4. They were married Oct. 4, 1947, at St. Francis Xavier Church, Poseyville. Father John Schenk officated. They are the parents of four children: Rita Beckley, Lois Hasenour, Ronald Elpers and Earl Elpers. They have six grandsons. Mr. Elpers is retired from Elpers Construc- tion and farming. Mrs. Elpers works at St. James School. DUBOIS COUNTY BANK MEMBER OLD NATIONAL BANCORP Member FDIC YOUR FIVE STAR SERVICE BANK Golden Jubilarians Erwin and Florence (Schroeder) Seifert of Jasper will celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary with a Mass of Thanksgiving at11 a.m. Oct. 5 at : St. Joseph Church, Jasper. A dinner for invited guests will be held at the Knights of Columbus Home, Jasper. An Open House and reception will be held from 2:30 to 4:30 at the K of C Home. The couple was married Oct. 7, 1947 at St. Joseph Church. cated. They are the parents of nine Dennis Seifert, Bob Seifert, Duane Seifert, Seifert, Donna Humbert, Diane y, Erney, Darlene Mehringer and Lois all of Jasper.. They have 18 grandchildren. 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