19th Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Ezk 16:1–15, 60, 63
The word of Yahweh came to me in these terms, “Son of man, make known to Jerusalem its sins. You say on my behalf: Your beginning was in Canaan; there you were born. Your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. On the day you were born your cord was not cut, you were not bathed in water to make you clean, you were not rubbed with salt nor were you wrapped in cloth. There was no one to look with pity on you or compassionate enough to give you any of these attentions. You were left exposed in the open fields because you were looked upon with disgust on the day you were born.
But I passed by and saw you immersed in your blood. I said to you in the midst of your blood, “Live!” I made you grow like a plant of the field. You grew up and became tall and were becoming of marriageable age. Your breasts were formed and your hair had grown but you were naked and exposed. I passed by later and saw you were at the age of love and spread part of my garment over you to cover your nudity. I made a covenant with you with an oath – word of Yahweh – and you were mine. Then I bathed you in water, I cleansed you of your blood and anointed you with oil. I clothed you with embroidered cloth and put soft leather sandals on your feet. I dressed you in fine linen and covered you with silk. I adorned you with jewelry, putting bracelets on your arms, a necklace around your neck and a ring in your nose. I gave you earrings and a magnificent crown for your head. You were adorned with gold and silver; your clothing was fine linen, silk and embroidered cloth. You were fed on finest flour, honey and oil; you became very beautiful and rose to be queen. Your beauty was perfect and your renown spread through the nations, because of the splendor I had given you – word of Yahweh.
But you relied on your beauty; you trusted in your fame and you began to give yourself to every passerby like a prostitute.
But I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth and make in your favor an eternal covenant so that you may remember, be ashamed and never open your mouth again because of your humiliation, when I have pardoned you for all you have done,” word of Yahweh.
Gospel: Matthew 19:3-12
Some Pharisees approached Jesus. 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 he said: Man has now to 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 your stubborn heart, 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 concubinage, 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. Some are born incapable of marriage. 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.”
As in many other instances, Jesus cut through all the laws and interpretations of the Pharisees; he even went back beyond the law of Moses, the Torah, to the ideal or the principle of marriage. He refused to enter the debate at the level of laws and their interpretation. He went back to Adam and Even, the original union. That was the state of innocence, when adultery and divorce and remarriage were not even imaginable (because there was no one else!).
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