Friday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
(Sirach 6:5-17; Mark 10:1-12)
Much like Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, the Book of Sirach today notes different types of friendships. The philosopher writes of friendships of utility and of pleasure. In the first category are acquaintances for business purposes and in the second, pals to drink beer with. Sirach might call both these kinds of friendship “fair-weathered.” They will not likely last a lifetime, especially if the people move apart. A third kind of friend both authors see as “another self.” These are good people who can be trusted with the secrets of one’s heart. They will respond honestly and wisely. Sirach calls such a friend a treasure beyond any price.
In today’s gospel Jesus may be seen as enabling husband and wife to have this third kind of friendship. He recognizes that divorce is the easy way out of a relationship that was meant to last until death. Although he cites the first creation story to support the prohibition of divorce, he might have used the second as well. By that account the woman was created from the man’s rib so that she might be his lifelong companion. In everyday life such a relationship must overcome considerable differences of background and emotional response. The task requires both time and effort which do not admit divorce.
We should count on God as our most esteemed friend. He will listen to our heart-felt needs and respond in His myriad ways. He will help married couples overcome the obstacles to loving relationships. And He will assist all transcend any resistant fair-weathered-ness to become wise and enduring friends of others.