Ps 136:1-3, 16-18, 21-22 & 24
His mercy endures forever.
19TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Psalter: Week 3 / (Red)
St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe, priest & martyr
1st Reading: Jos 24:1-13
Joshua summoned all the tribes of Israel in Shechem, and assembled the elders, leaders, judges and secretaries. And together they presented themselves before God.
Addressing the people, Joshua said to them: “Yahweh, the God of Israel, commands me to say to you: Your ancestors lived beyond the Euphrates River—Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor—serving other gods. But I brought Abraham your father from beyond the Euphrates and led him through the whole land of Canaan. Then I gave him a son Isaac, that he might have numerous descendants. And to Isaac, I gave two sons: Esau and Jacob. Esau received the mountains of Seir as his inheritance, while Jacob and his sons went down to Egypt.
Then I sent Moses and Aaron to punish Egypt in the way that you know, that you might leave. Then I brought your ancestors out of Egypt and you came to the sea. The Egyptians pursued you with chariots and horses as far as the Red Sea. Then you cried to Yahweh, and he put immense darkness between you and the Egyptians. He made the sea go back on them and they were drowned. You have witnessed all the things he did in Egypt, and then you lived in the desert for a long time. Then I brought you to the land of the Amorites who were on the east of the Jordan. You fought them but it was I who gave them into your hand; you destroyed them and you seized their lands.
Balak, the son of Zippor, king of Moab, declared war on Israel and commanded Balaam son of Beor to curse you. But I would not listen to him, so Balaam blessed you and I saved you from the hands of Balak.
Then you crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho. And the landlords of Jericho fought against you: the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites and Jebusites declared war on you, but I gave them to you. The two Amorite kings fled from you because of the swarm of hornets that attacked them and not because of your sword and bow. I gave you lands which you have not tilled, cities which you did not build but in which you now live. I gave you vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant but from which you now eat.
Gospel: Mt 19:3-12
Some Pharisees approached him. They wanted to test him and asked, “Is a man allowed to divorce his wife for any reason he wants?“
Jesus replied, “Have you not read that in the beginning the Creator made them male and female, and the Creator said: Therefore a man shall leave father and mother, and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one body? So they are no longer two but one body; let no one separate what God has joined.“ They asked him, “Then, why did Moses command us to write a bill of dismissal in order to divorce?“ Jesus replied, “Moses knew the hardness of your hearts, so he allowed you to divorce your wives, but it was not so in the beginning. Therefore I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, unless it be for immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.“ The disciples said, “If that is the condition of a married man, it is better not to marry.“ Jesus said to them, “Not everybody can accept what you have just said, but only those who have received this gift. There are eunuchs born so from their mother‘s womb. Some have been made that way by others. But there are some who have given up the possibility of marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who can accept it, accept it.“
Some ignorant Catholics naively believe that, one of these days, the Church will “modernize” herself, adapt herself to the times and allow divorce—as do our Protestant brethren. Well, this will never happen because, as we can see from today’s gospel reading, the prohibition of divorce comes from Christ himself.
Why is Christ so adamantly against divorce? For many reasons. One of these, perhaps the most fundamental, is that couples are made one by God (“let no one separate what God has joined”). Another reason is that divorce deprives children of their much needed support system and destroys their emotional world at the time of their greatest fragility. Furthermore, divorce is a too easy way out of a difficult situation: it dispenses people from facing their mutual failings and thus from growing up. Most divorces could be prevented if both spouses learned to daily use three simple words: “I am sorry.”
A marriage is like a house: it needs regular maintenance. That requires a lot of work, but it is well worth it. A good marriage is more beautiful than any royal palace.
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