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Tuesday, August 11

Today’s Readings: Psalm 27; 2 Samuel 17:1-23; Mark 10:1-12; Acts 26:9-18; Psalm 128

As I read today’s Gospel reading from Mark, I was reminded of a speaker I heard several years ago who gave a lecture about the context for Jesus’ teaching on divorce. The individual noted that in Jesus’ day, it was extremely easy for a man to divorce his wife. This shouldn’t be a surprise since we are told that Jesus himself referenced that fact in Mark 10:5. And once a woman was abandoned in Jesus’ day, she was left at the mercy of the other men in her life. If her father or a brother took her in, for instance, the woman was generally okay. If the woman’s father or brother refused to taken her in however, then the woman was left vulnerable and exposed. Jesus’ stern teaching on divorce, the speaker concluded, was therefore a courageous act of solidarity with the women of his day. Now, are you ready for a healthy dose of irony? Let’s skip ahead two millennia. Many modern Christians have taken Jesus’ teaching out of its original context and used it as a tool against women in order to keep them trapped in troubled and/or abusive relationships. So what are we to make of all of this? Well, I suppose one of the most important lessons we can take from today’s Gospel reading is this: Jesus’ words and deeds were always embedded within a particular historical and social context. That means one should never treat them too simplistically. So the next time you are tempted to take Jesus’ words and deeds out of context and twist them to fit your own agenda, take a deep breath and resist that temptation. Have the good sense and humility to realize there might be a difference between our perceptions of what we think Jesus said versus what Jesus might have actually meant. Til next time…

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