The Gospel according to Matthew (Matthew 19:3-12)
Some Pharisees approached Jesus, and tested him, saying, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?” He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male and female and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate.” They said to him, “Then why did Moses command that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss her?” He said to them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.” His disciples said to him, “If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” He answered, “Not all can accept this word, but only those to whom that is granted. Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, by your Holy Spirit grant me the grace of entering into this time of prayer with you. I want to know you better, love you more, and follow you more closely.
Encountering Christ: This was Jesus’ response to a lengthy discussion about the indissolubility of marriage. One of the reasons that “Not all can accept this word…” is because marriage, and every other vocation, requires wholehearted sacrifice and selflessness. When this is not present, and when the selfless living that is required of us turns to selfishness, then every conflict becomes a heavy burden. A burden that is unbearable without grace.
What is love? What form of love is required in marriage and every other vocation? What love is required of parents and grandparents? The answer is the same to all of these questions. We must love with complete selflessness and in a sacrificial way. Love, in its truest form, always looks to the good of the other and never focuses upon oneself.
Only grace can enable us to live a life based on true love. Our fallen human nature tends to “navel gaze,” meaning, we tend to go through life thinking about ourselves—“What will make my life better? How will this affect me? This person has hurt me. I don’t want to do this or that, etc.” It is very difficult in life to turn our eyes from ourselves to the love of others. This is why Jesus said that this form of love can only be embraced by “those to whom that is granted.” And those to whom this depth of love is granted are those who are open to God’s transforming grace in their lives.
One reason that it is very difficult to love in a completely selfless way is because it requires us to live by grace. Our feeble human minds cannot arrive at the high calling of charity by itself. It is only by grace that we will understand that selfless living is not only best for those whom we are called to love, but it is also best for us. And in the context of married life, parenting, other vocations and every other situation in life, if our love is always focused upon the good of the other, and if our lives imitate the total sacrifice of Christ, then we will see God do great things through us. As He does, we will also see God do great things in us. The bottom line is that we only become who we were made to be when we live like Christ. And He lived a life that was unconditionally sacrificial and selfless.
Closing Prayer: Lord, today by your grace I ask you to enlighten and soften the hardness of my heart in a particular relationship where it may be hindering my love. Give me the grace, today, to imitate you in love.
Action: Spend the day making a conscious effort to tell those around you who are important – that you love them for who they are and their gift to you. Identify the specific gift they bring before you.