Friday 12August 2022 – THEY ARE NO LONGER TWO BUT ONE FLESH

19th Week in Ordinary Time          

1st Reading: Ezk 16:1-15, 60, 63

The word of the LORD came to me:  Son of man, make known to Jerusalem her abominations. Thus says the Lord GOD to Jerusalem: By origin and birth you are of the land of Canaan; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. As for your birth, the day you were born your navel cord was not cut; you were neither washed with water nor anointed, nor were you rubbed with salt, nor swathed in swaddling clothes. No one looked on you with pity or compassion to do any of these things for you. Rather, you were thrown out on the ground as something loathsome, the day you were born. Then I passed by and saw you weltering in your blood. I said to you:  Live in your blood and grow like a plant in the field. You grew and developed, you came to the age of puberty; your breasts were formed, your hair had grown, but you were still stark naked. Again, I passed by you and saw that you were now old enough for love. So I spread the corner of my cloak over you to cover your nakedness; I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you; you became mine, says the Lord GOD. Then I bathed you with water, washed away your blood, and anointed you with oil. I clothed you with an embroidered gown, put sandals of fine leather on your feet; I gave you a fine linen sash and silk robes to wear. I adorned you with jewelry: I put bracelets on your arms, a necklace about your neck, a ring in your nose, pendants in your ears, and a glorious diadem upon your head. Thus, you were adorned with gold and silver; your garments were of fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth. Fine flour, honey, and oil were your food. You were exceedingly beautiful, with the dignity of a queen. You were renowned among the nations for your beauty, perfect as it was, because of my splendor which I had bestowed on you, says the Lord GOD.  But you were captivated by your own beauty, you used your renown to make yourself a harlot, and you lavished your harlotry on every passer-by, whose own you became. Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you when you were a girl, and I will set up an everlasting covenant with you, that you may remember and be covered with confusion, and that you may be utterly silenced for shame when I pardon you for all you have done, says the Lord GOD.   

Gospel: Mt 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.”                          

THEY ARE NO LONGER TWO BUT ONE FLESH: The Israelites discussed divorce, in  two prominent schools of thought, the strict school of Shammai and the lenient school of Hillel. The school of Shammai interpreted the phrase “something objectionable” in Deut 24:1, that could be ground for divorce as adultery. But the school of Hillel interpreted the words more widely to mean “no favour in his eyes” with the understanding that any petty thing could be a reason for divorce. Jesus does not side with any schools of thought but refers the creation narrative to answer the question.  When a man marries, he is entering into a new and very intimate relationship that takes precedence over all other relationships, including family relationships.  The phrase “whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery” shows divorce as illegal because they are no longer two but one flesh.

Prayer: Lord bless all marriages and help a husband and wife to live as one.

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MARITAL GRACE: God shows Joshua how He has built the nation of Israel from Abraham. He makes him understand that it was not by their effort or goodness but because of His grace upon them. This shows that God can make a great nation from one family. Marriage is a special calling from God. A family and a home is basically what gives a human person an orientation in life. Divorce is not an option but totally against God`s will. To heal the pitfalls of humanity in the life of grace, God gives us a second chance in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Marriage and family must therefore be the world where we meet Christ through constant reconciliation and prayer. Let us pray that the Lord transforms our homes into temples of prayer and reconciliation. GOD’S DESIGN: God created man and woman as climax and the crown of his creation (Gen 1:27). He blessed them and intended that they survive together taking care of everything (Gen 1:28). His original design was that they are meant for each other and inseparable. The Lord wanted them to grow together and live together sharing their love and concern for one another. But at a later stage Moses has made a provision in case of infidelity for a separation (Dt 24:1). This has become the point of argument for the Pharisees with Jesus. For Jesus, mutual love, respect, care and concern for one another is very important in marriage. In addition, accepting one another with all their talents, strengths and weaknesses helps the marriage to move on. It is a union of two equal partners. Both the husband and wife deserve equal respect from their partners.