The Holy Gospel according to 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.”
Reflection: In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus confirm the teaching and life-long commitment in the sacrament of matrimony. The Church’s teaching on the sacrament of Matrimony refers to this scripture passage. One of my “deacon duties” at my parish is to prepare couples for the sacrament of matrimony. After the usual introductions, I ask the couple how they met, what attracted them to each other, and why they want to get married in the Church. Of course their answers vary. Then I tell them this sacrament is a life-long commitment, until death of one of the spouses. Those of you who are married hopefully recall the vows you exchanged on your wedding day. “I take you to be my husband/wife. I promise to be faithful to you, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, to love and honor you all the days of my life.” This makes me reflect on our marriage. This year Martha and I celebrated 51 years of marriage. 50 years ago, we could not think of the “until death” part, because we were young and that seemed so far into the future. In spite of the valleys and the peaks that is part of all marriages, Martha and I have lived up to those vows we exchanged on our wedding day. And here we are 51 years later still together. I believe it because we have kept God has the center of our relationship and allowed God’s grace to work in our marriage. In this Gospel, Jesus also confirms the Church’s teaching on celibacy, those who do not marry for the “sake of the Kingdom.” I think of all the priests, religious brothers and sisters who serve the Church and our parishes.
Action for the day: Pray for the sacrament of matrimony, all married couples, those married couples who are facing challenges. Pray for all priests, religious brothers and sisters, and for those single people living their vocation to serve God and the Church.