The Christian religion championed many significant changes in the history of civilization. Some of these changes include, the defense of the rights of the unborn, and the defense of the right of the infant to live. It also fought against polygamy, incest, marital infidelity, etc. All these issues can be categorized as a fight for the right of persons. The issue of marriage and divorce, which Jesus addresses in today’s gospel, falls under this broad category of human rights. Seen from a very narrow point of view, what seems to be most obvious is Jesus trying to restrict the freedom a couple has to liberate themselves from an unhealthy relationship. Much of the criticisms that the church has received has been based on that; on how hard the church makes it for a couple to obtain divorce. But really this law is about the protection of the rights of all, especially the most vulnerable members of society. The society in which Jesus lived and ministered was predominantly patriarchal. There was undeniable discrimination against women which often saw then living as second class citizens. Stories of Mary Magdalene and the Samaritan woman are some of those that leave no doubt about how much women were discriminated against. Jesus’ teaching on marriage and divorce was indeed revolutionary. The laws that existed prior to His teaching, including the Mosaic law, gave men almost absolute right to get rid of their wives; and almost no rights to women. Women were first their fathers’ property and then their husband’s. Women were regarded as expendable objects with almost no legal rights. Jesus came to bring about equity, justice and fairness, and to place women on equal footing as men. Jesus’ fight for the rights of women bring to mind the broad goal of His ministry to fight for the oppressed, the poor, and marginalized. His mission was to ensure that everyone was included. His disciples understood and embraced that mission as people like Paul made outreach to Gentiles the hallmark of his ministry. The church which Jesus founded must continue to espouse and advance the principles and values for which he lived and died. You and I must ensure that fighting for the rights of the oppressed and the marginalized is an important part of who we are. Without that, we as individual Christians, and the church as an institution loses its relevance. We pray for strength from on high that we may be true ambassadors of the good news of the love of God to the world. Amen.