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. (Mark 10:14-15)





the SECOND Sunday in ANGELS’ Tide

Sermon Starter

The Pharisees were out to trap Jesus in His own words. And what better place than to set the trap in the tripwire of marriage and divorce! So, they asked Jesus, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”

Now, the Republicans of Jesus’ day, the conservative rabbis, said a man could only divorce his wife because of marital unfaithfulness. The Democrats, the liberal rabbis, said a man could divorce for any reason, even because of a burnt, dinner meal! So, where would Jesus stand: would He side with the conservatives or the liberals? Either way, someone would be angry!

Jesus then responded, “What did Moses command you?” They answered, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.” Well, not exactly. Deuteronomy 24 says that if a man marries but then finds some indecency in his wife and then divorces her, what would happen if she got a new husband who later died? The Law did not allow her to go back and marry the first husband.

So, what was Moses doing? He was regulating divorce and remarriage, not allowing it. But that distinction didn’t sit well with the Pharisees. They looked for loopholes, lawful ways to get rid of their wives without God getting in the way.

But Jesus didn’t play their game. He went straight for the heart. “Moses wrote this commandment for you because of the hardness of your hearts,” He said. Hardness of heart made that law necessary. And a hardened heart is another way of saying an uncircumcised heart, which no Pharisee believed he had. And hardened hearts quickly become calloused hearts ‑ hardened against one’s spouse and, in turn, God. Hardened hearts are also unbelieving hearts, refusing God’s gifts, looking for loopholes to rationalize sin.

Hardened hearts need the Law to curb and contain them. And that’s what God’s Law did. It kept men from treating women like cattle, trading them back and forth to suit their fancy. For God wants us to treat all people with dignity and respect; after all, were we not all originally created in His image? We recognize that reality as we properly serve one another, whether as husband or wife.

So, how did Jesus deal with their twisting of the Law? He took them back to creation. For marriage begins with God giving, with us on the receiving end, just like during creation. For like creation, marriage is a gift from God.

And so “a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” God intended marriage to be the closest communion that can exist between two people. It’s a complete and committed joining of a man and woman into a physical, emotional, and spiritual communion. And it’s a closed communion ‑ no one is to drive a wedge between a husband and wife. The only closer communion that is to exist is the communion between Christ and the Church, between Christ and the believer.

Yes, the Pharisees looked for loopholes. But Jesus held up the gift of God and His will for both husband and wife. They are to be one flesh by God’s Word. And anyone who dares to get between them must answer to God.

Jesus’ disciples heard this, but they had lingering questions. So, they waited until they were alone with Jesus. And this time, Jesus delivered what He said even more sharply: “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”

Those are hard words. They hurt our ears, especially in this day of multiple marriages, divorces, living together, and same-sex relationships. But God’s law doesn’t have loopholes. He wants the one-flesh union of husband and wife to last “until death us do part.” What falls short of that falls short of God’s intent. What falls short of that needs repentance and forgiveness, just like the other sins in our lives.

Sunday School Starter

“Unwilling Prophet” is the title of this week’s lesson for the Early Childhood Catechumens. Jonah, a reluctant prophet, tries to flee God’s calling to declare His message to Nineveh. Attempting to escape by boat, Jonah finds himself cast into the sea, swallowed by a great fish, praying for deliverance, and spit up on the beach three days later. The people of Nineveh receive and respond to the message Jonah delivers, repenting of their sins before God. Angered at God’s mercy, Jonah heads out of the city to sulk. There, God reminds Jonah who is in control. The students will also work on  memorizing the Second Commandment and Explanation.

First, Second, and Third Grade will will learn of “The Pointing Prophet.” John the Baptist lives in the wilderness, dressed in camel’s hair and eating locusts and honey. John’s message of repentance and preparation draws people to the banks of the Jordan, where they receive Baptism. As the prophet sent to point out the Messiah, John declares, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) as Jesus approaches. When John baptizes Jesus in the Jordan, the Spirit descends on Him as the voice of the Father proclaims, “This is My beloved Son” (Matthew 3:17). This class is memorizing the Third Commandment and Explanation.

Catechesis with Pastor will explore the Close of the Commandments and the Divine Liturgy. Commandments 1-10 and their explanations should be memorized by class time.