“Broken Promises”

         Matthew now turns to the next question.  The Pharisees come to “test” Jesus and ask him about divorce.  Ouch.  That is a topic that has touched most all of our lives.  We live in days when commitment phobia is very common.  Marriage is often seen as an unnecessary piece of paper.  Jesus points to creation and says that the original plan was that a man and woman would be united, to be a committed support team to face life.  To take something apart that has been superglued together, will leave scars on both.  We talk about “friendly divorces” where the partners work together for the sake of the children but that does not change the fact that a vow has been broken and serious discussions have occurred.  The Pharisees point to Moses who allowed divorce but Jesus says that is only because of hardness of heart and adultery.” We call it incompatibility.

         During Lent we bow our heads and admit that we have failed to live up to our commitments, our promises, our values, or our expectations.  Maybe we personally have not gone through a divorce but we have failed our important others at some point.  Interestingly Jesus does not end on a harsh condemning note.  He says that the plan is for a permanent union and “the one who can accept this should accept it. (Matthew 19:12)”

         It makes me think of the case of the little boy the disciples could not heal and then Jesus comes and says prayer can only heal it – by the power of God.  Not all of our problems can be solved by will power, by trying a new product or a different doctor.  The ideal, perfectionism, is seldom reached.  We need the cross because we fail.  In church services we kneel at the alter for communion, and we have the opportunity to sit quietly and pray, those confessional times are often followed by absolution when the pastor says,

Almighty God in His mercy has given His Son to die for you and for His sake forgives you all your sins. As a called and ordained servant of Christ, and by His authority, I therefore declare unto you the total forgiveness of all your sins in the name of the Father and of the T Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

These are powerful words.  Because of the cross we are forgiven.  Let us spend a couple minutes this morning reflecting on ways we have not lived up to our promises and then read the absolution again.  We are forgiven all our failures – divorce, failed diets, gossip – because of Jesus.  Thank you, Lord, for your mercy.

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