The readings from Genesis and the Gospel reading today are very familiar to all of us: in Genesis, the creation of a partner for man, and Jesus’ teaching on divorce in the Gospel of Mark. Understanding the culture at the time they were written is important, especially the reading from Mark.

Remember that at the time when Jesus lived, woman were considered a man’s possession. Jewish law assumed that divorce was lawful, but the man was the only person in a marriage who could do the divorcing. Jesus’ teaching brings out the ideal of marriage: monogamy is the ideal. This passage has been debated and we know that sometimes a relationship doesn’t work. Staying together certainly does not reflect what marriage is meant to be. The church today wants to offer those who are divorced a chance to be reconciled. This is different from what people were told years ago.

In 2019, the Church of St. Francis of Assisi will celebrate a milestone: 175 years of serving the people of New York City – and the world. On May 9, 1844, the new Coadjutor Bishop, Most Rev. John McCloskey, blessed and laid the cornerstone of the new parish of St. Francis of Assisi located between 6th and 7th Avenues on West 31st Street. At this time, the west side of Manhattan between 23rd Street and Times Square had 400 residents. “Tree-lined streets, farms, and country estates dotted a pastoral landscape. Many of the inhabitants were German Catholics from Prussia, Bavaria, Austria and Hungary, even Bohemia.”These were our humble beginnings. 2019 will be a Year of Celebration with events throughout the year which will be announced at a later date.

-Fr. Andrew Reitz, O.F.M.