Friday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
(II Corinthians 4:7-15; Matthew 5:27-32)
Pope Francis has been accused of creating confusion over today’s gospel message. Noting the possibility of divorced and remarried persons receiving Communion in Orthodox churches, Francis floated the idea to the synod of bishops meeting two years ago in Rome. It cannot be said with complete candor that just because Jesus in the gospel forbids marriage of divorced people, that it is absolutely impossible. After all, in the very next section of the Sermon on the Mount he forbids the taking of oaths. Yet presidents and peons have sworn in the name of God.
But divorce affects life at its deepest levels. It ends a relationship where two people by word and deed have promised lifelong fidelity. It often leaves children in desperation. Moreover, as Christian marriage is a sacrament expressing Christ’s love for the Church, divorce becomes a countersign of that love. Furthermore, the proscription of divorce has been the perpetual practice of the Church since antiquity.
Of course, Francis only wanted to exhibit God’s mercy. Many innocent people have been adversely affected by divorce, and many divorced persons have undergone significant conversions. Life’s contingencies do not always neat solutions to these situations. Yet Francis eventually yielded to the majority opinion of the synod. In his apostolic exhortation The Joy of Love he restates the traditional teaching of the Church with some pastoral recommendations.