The Pharisees ask Jesus, ‘Is it against the Law for a man to divorce his wife?’ and in response to Jesus’ question, they add ‘Moses allowed us to draw up a writ of dismissal.’ Their words reflect the inequality of the Jewish Law at that time; a man could divorce his wife by a very simple procedure, but a woman had no right to divorce her husband. A woman dismissed by her husband could be cast off without money, property or place in society – she was nobody. In his reply, Jesus goes back to the origins of the human race. God created man and woman to be ‘one body,’ supporting one another in the covenant of marriage, which cannot be dissolved by human power. It seems a hard teaching to his disciples, but Jesus is challenging the unjust custom of his time.
Today’s Scripture readings remind us how important it is for the Church to support married couples and families on their journey through life. This week, the Synod of Bishops is meeting with the Pope in Rome, to discuss the Church’s ministry to young people. Young people today grow up in families of different shapes and sizes. Marriages can break down and families can find themselves in difficult situations. Pope Francis has often reminded us of the need to support and encourage every family, whatever their circumstances.