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».
It is not a question of marriage or celibacy, but knowing and accomplishing the divine will. Let no man put himself against the divine will.
God wants man to live his life together to the full and to share his life with others, so that they can live their lives to its fullness. This fullness of life is possible, not in a life of solitude, but in a life of communion, not in separation, but in union.
Within this divine desire of living together, there is also celibacy, a life totally dedicated to the fulfilment of God's will, a life in God, together with God, not a life alone. Jesus teaches us that we cannot appropriate the mission, rather, we must learn to accept it, as something confined to our responsibility. God entrusts us with the mission, that He himself wishes to do. For this, he calls us, he anoints us and he sends us, as St. Paul tells us.
In the first reading we read about this salvation story, where God was at the heart of the story. It was God who animated and directed the people. God invites us to be aware of this truth, and to live our mission fully in obedience and faithfulness.
Action of the day: Remain with and in God.
«Let no one separate what God has joined»
Fr. Roger J. LANDRY
(Hyannis, Massachusetts, United States)
Today, Jesus responds to his contemporaries questions about the true meaning of marriage by underlining its indissolubility.
His answer, however, also provides the adequate foundation for Christians to respond to those whose stubborn hearts have made them seek to extend the definition of marriage to homosexual couples.
In taking marriage back to God's original plan, Jesus underlines four things relevant to why only one man and one woman can be joined in marriage:
1) «In the beginning, the Creator made them male and female» (Mt 19:4). Jesus teaches that there is great meaning to our masculinity and femininity in God's plan. To ignore it is to ignore who we are.
2) «Man has now to leave father and mother and be joined to his wife» (Mt 19:5). God's plan is not that a man leave his parents and cling to whomever he wishes, but to a wife.
3) «The two shall become one body» (Mt 19:5). This bodily union goes beyond the short-lived physical union that occurs in the act of making love. It points toward the lasting union that happens when man and woman, through making love, actually procreate a child who is the perduring marriage or union of their bodies. It is obvious that man and man, and woman and woman, cannot become one body in this way.
4) «Let no one separate what God has joined» (Mt 19:6). God himself has joined man and woman in marriage and whenever we try to divide what he has joined, we do so at our own and all of society's expense.
In his catecheses on Genesis, Pope John Paul II said: «In his answer to the Pharisees, Christ put forward to his interlocutors the Total vision of man, without which no adequate answer can be given to questions connected with marriage». Each of us is called to be the “echo” of this Word of God in our own day.