Friday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time - 18th August 2017
Reading 1, Joshua 24:1-13
1 Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel together at Shechem; he then summoned all the elders of Israel, its leaders, judges and officials, and they presented themselves in God's presence.
3 I then brought your ancestor Abraham from beyond the River and led him through the length and breadth of Canaan. I increased his descendants and I gave him Isaac.
6 I brought your ancestors out of Egypt, and you came to the Sea; the Egyptians pursued your ancestors with chariots and horsemen, to the Sea of Reeds.
7 They then called to Yahweh, and he spread a thick fog between you and the Egyptians, and made the sea go back on them and cover them. You saw with your own eyes what I did in Egypt. Then, for a long while, you lived in the desert.
8 I then brought you into the country of the Amorites, who used to live on the further side of the Jordan; they made war on you and I put them at your mercy; after which, you took possession of their country, since I destroyed them before you.
10 But I would not listen to Balaam; instead, he had to bless you, and I saved you from his power.
11 "You then crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho, but the inhabitants of Jericho made war on you: Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites and Jebusites, and I put them all at your mercy.
12 I sent hornets ahead of you, which drove out the two Amorite kings before you; this was not the work of your sword or of your bow.
13 And now I have given you a country for which you have not toiled, towns you have not built, although you live in them, vineyards and olive groves you have not planted, although you eat their fruit."
The Word of the Lord.
Responsorial Psalm, Psalms 136:1-3, 16-18, 21-22, 24
His mercy endures forever.
1 Alleluia! Give thanks to Yahweh for he is good, for his faithful love endures for ever.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods, for his faithful love endures for ever.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his faithful love endures for ever.
16 He led his people through the desert, for his faithful love endures for ever.
17 He struck down mighty kings, for his faithful love endures for ever.
18 Slaughtered famous kings, for his faithful love endures for ever.
21 He gave their land as a birthright, for his faithful love endures for ever.
22 A birthright to his servant Israel, for his faithful love endures for ever.
24 And rescued us from our enemies, for his faithful love endures for ever.
Gospel, Matthew 19:3-12
"What God has joined together"
4 He answered, 'Have you not read that the Creator from the beginning made them male and female
5 and that he said: This is why a man leaves his father and mother and becomes attached to his wife, and the two become one flesh?
6 They are no longer two, therefore, but one flesh. So then, what God has united, human beings must not divide.'
7 They said to him, 'Then why did Moses command that a writ of dismissal should be given in cases of divorce?'
8 He said to them, 'It was because you were so hard-hearted, that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but it was not like this from the beginning.
9 Now I say this to you: anyone who divorces his wife -- I am not speaking of an illicit marriage -- and marries another, is guilty of adultery.'
10 The disciples said to him, 'If that is how things are between husband and wife, it is advisable not to marry.'
11 But he replied, 'It is not everyone who can accept what I have said, but only those to whom it is granted.
12 There are eunuchs born so from their mother's womb, there are eunuchs made so by human agency and there are eunuchs who have made themselves so for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.'
The Gospel of the Lord.
What is God's intention for our state in life, whether married or single?
Jesus deals with the issue of divorce by taking his hearers back to the beginning of creation and to God's plan for the human race. In Genesis 2:23-24 we see God's intention and ideal that two people who marry should become so indissolubly one that they are one flesh. That ideal is found in the unbreakable union of Adam and Eve. They were created for each other and for no one else. They are the pattern and symbol for all who were to come. Jesus explains that Moses permitted divorce as a concession in view of a lost ideal. Jesus sets the high ideal of the married state before those who are willing to accept his commands.
Jesus likewise sets the high ideal for those who freely renounce marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Both marriage and the single life are calls from God to live a consecrated life, that is to live as married couples or as singles who belong not to themselves but to God. Our lives are not our own, but they belong to God. He gives strength, joy, and blessing to those who seek to follow his way of holiness in their state of life. Do you seek the Lord Jesus and his grace for your state of life?
Prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, your call to holiness extends to all in every state of life. Sanctify our lives - as married couples and as singles - that we may live as men and women who are consecrated to you. Make us leaven in a society that disdains life-long marriage fidelity, chastity, and living single for the Lord." Amen.
Whether married or single - be consecrated to the Lord