Not all can receive it: Kasper mystery solved

In my last post, I noted that Kasper departs from the usual Catholic interpretation of Matthew 19:11 in taking Jesus’ words as referring to marriage, as though Jesus were saying that the truth about marriage is something that not all can “receive” but only those to whom it is given.  And I complained that Kasper didn’t even signal his departure.

In context, of course, Kasper says nothing bad.  He takes it in a great direction.  I only noticed it because I’ve heard where this document is leading, namely to a recommendation of relaxing discipline regarding divorce and remarriage.

But today, I figured out both why Kasper took that verse that way and why he felt no need to signal that he was doing something unusual:  he’s following the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1615.  The Catechism not only cites the same verse the same way, but develops its meaning exactly as Kasper does:

This unequivocal insistence on the indissolubility of the marriage bond may have left some perplexed and could seem to be a demand impossible to realize. However, Jesus has not placed on spouses a burden impossible to bear, or too heavy – heavier than the Law of Moses. (Mark 8:34 / Matt 11:29-30) By coming to restore the original order of creation disturbed by sin, he himself gives the strength and grace to live marriage in the new dimension of the Reign of God. It is by following Christ, renouncing themselves, and taking up their crosses that spouses will be able to “receive” the original meaning of marriage and live it with the help of Christ. (Matt 19:11) This grace of Christian marriage is a fruit of Christ’s cross, the source of all Christian life.

So I would say:  no cause for concern here.  Kasper isn’t trying to set up something with a sneaky interpretive maneuver.

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Author: Dr. Holmes

Dr. Jeremy Holmes teaches Theology at Wyoming Catholic College. He lives in Wyoming with his wife, Jacinta, and their eight children.

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