‘What God has united, man must not divide’

Twenty-seventh Sunday of the Year B

In this reading, Jesus teaches about the commitment and fidelity needed in marriage and the treatment of children in a healthy society. Fr Adrian Graffy reflects.

Mark 10:2-16

2 Some Pharisees approached Jesus and asked, ‘Is it against the law for a man to divorce his wife?’ They were testing him. 3 He answered them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ 4 ‘Moses allowed us,’ they said, ‘to draw up a writ of dismissal and so to divorce.’ 5 Then Jesus said to them, ‘It was because you were so unteachable that he wrote this commandment for you. 6 But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female. 7 This is why a man must leave father and mother, 8 and the two become one body. They are no longer two, therefore, but one body. 9 So, then, what God has united, man must not divide.’ 10 Back in the house the disciples questioned him again about this, 11 and he said to them, ‘The man who divorces his wife and marries another is guilty of adultery against her. 12 And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another she is guilty of adultery too.’
13 People were bringing little children to him, for him to touch them. The disciples turned them away, 14 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. 15 I tell you solemnly, anyone who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ 16 Then he put his arms round them, laid his hands on them and gave them his blessing.

Other readings: Genesis 2:18-24 Psalm 127 (128) Hebrews 2:9-11


Jesus, on his journey to Jerusalem, has reached Judaea and some Pharisees question him about divorce. In answer Jesus quotes from the Book of Genesis some words which appear also at the end of our first reading: ‘This is why a man must leave father and mother, and the two become one body.’ Jesus reasserts teaching about marriage which people in earlier times were unwilling to accept, because they were ‘so unteachable’. It calls for commitment and fidelity. The second piece of teaching is also relevant to families and relationships. The treatment of children is crucial to the health of a community.

Fidelity in marriage and a common endeavour to face difficulties are much needed in our time. The safety of children is an enormous concern and is rightly a priority. Not every marriage is ideal and there are some which cannot continue due to irreconcilable differences. In such situations great unhappiness can be experienced. Commitment and faithfulness, and loving guidance of young people and children, remain the basic foundations of a healthy and happy society. These are God-given principles, which reflect the faithful goodness of God.

How faithful am I to commitments undertaken?

Do I cherish those who are close to me?

We pray for our families that they may show courage and true love.

We pray for families who have suffered break-down that they may receive strength and support to rebuild shattered lives.

INT-IMG_5349 Fr Adrian Graffy (3)Rev Dr Adrian Graffy is a member of the Vatican Commission that takes a lead in Bible scholarship, interpretation and promotion in the Catholic Church.

Rev Dr Graffy said of his five-year appointment by Pope Francis in 2014: “It is an honour to be nominated by Pope Francis as a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. I feel humbled and very much look forward to being of service to His Holiness and the Church.”

He added: “A great deal has been achieved in England and Wales in recent years by many co-workers to advance Biblical scholarship and the provision of easy-to-use resources. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them and the Bishops’ Conference Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis for their efforts to promote understanding and love of the Bible, particularly through the publication of the teaching documents, The Gift of Scripture and the study guide to Verbum Domini, The Word of the Lord.”

Rev Dr Graffy received his doctorate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome in 1983. He taught for over 20 years in St John’s Seminary in Wonersh, and is Chair of the National Scripture Working Group, which is an instrument of the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. Fr Graffy is a past director of Brentwood’s Commission for Evangelisation and Formation and parish priest of Christ the Eternal High Priest in Gidea Park, Essex. Among his publications are the Gospel of Mark and the Letter to the Romans (Alive Publishing).

Listen to BBC Essex interview with Fr Adrian Graffy