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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Today’s Reading | Mark 10:1–16

He left that place and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan. And crowds again gathered around him; and, as was his custom, he again taught them.

Some Pharisees came, and to test him they 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 dismissal and to divorce her.” But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them. (NRSV)

Last year I had the privilege of attending a special luncheon hosted by the Chicago Bar Association at which a church member was to be recognized as the first Asian American Justice in Illinois. I was deeply moved by the significance of what was being recognized: that justice requires diversifying the perspectives of those who are given power to make rulings in cases that could involve any of us.

In reading Jesus’ parables on divorce, I am struck by the need for this recognition. That the question about divorce law is posed and deliberated upon only by men reflects a world in which those who made and interpreted all the laws were men. Given this patriarchal reality, Jesus’ response is remarkable.

Rather than sticking to the terms of the law as given, Jesus goes back to the beginning of creation, and in talking about creation, he puts men and women on even ground. He says, “God made them male and female. . . . And the two shall become one flesh.” In the terms Jesus uses, there is no privileging of one over the other.

Jesus reminds us that the terms we use matter. None of us can have sufficient life experience to perceive an issue from every possible perspective. We can, however, do our best to use terms that place all people on even ground.

Merciful God, forgive us for our unfairness. Help us to see perspectives beyond the peripheries of power. Help us to put all people on even ground, holy ground. Amen.

Written by Joyce Shin, Associate Pastor for Congregational Life

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