Friday, June 16, 2017
1) Opening prayer
God of wisdom and love,
source of all good,
send your Spirit to teach us your truth
and guide our actions
in your way of peace.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Matthew 5,27-32
Jesus said to his disciples: 'You have heard how it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I say this to you, if a man looks at a woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
If your right eye should be your downfall, tear it out and throw it away; for it will do you less harm to lose one part of yourself than to have your whole body thrown into hell. And if your right hand should be your downfall, cut it off and throw it away; for it will do you less harm to lose one part of yourself than to have your whole body go to hell. 'It has also been said, Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a writ of dismissal. But I say this to you, everyone who divorces his wife, except for the case of an illicit marriage, makes her an adulteress; and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.'
• In yesterday’s Gospel, Jesus made a rereading of the commandments: “Do not kill” (Mt 5, 20-26). In today’s Gospel Jesus rereads the commandment “You shall not commit adultery”. Jesus rereads the law starting from the intention that God had, which was proclaimed centuries before on Mount Sinai. He seeks the spirit of the Law and does not close himself up in the letter. He takes up again and defends the great values of human life which constitute the background of each one of these Ten Commandments. He insists on love, on fidelity, on mercy, on justice, on truth, on humanity (Mt 9,13; 12,7; 23,23; Mt 5,10; 5,20; Lc 11,42; 18,9). The result of the full observance of the Law of God humanizes the person. In Jesus we can see what happens when a person allows God to fill his life. The last objective is that of uniting both loves, the building up of fraternity in defence of life. The greater the fraternity, the greater will be the fullness of life and greater will be the adoration given by all creatures to God, Creator and Saviour.
• In today’s Gospel, Jesus looks closely at the relationship man-woman in marriage, fundamental basis of human living together. There was a commandment which said: “Do not commit adultery”, and another one which said: “Anyone who divorces his wife, has to give her a certificate of divorce”. Jesus takes up again both commandments, giving them a new meaning.
• Matthew 5, 27-28: Do not commit adultery. What does this commandment require from us? The ancient response was: man cannot sleep with somebody else’s wife. This was demanded by the letter of the commandment. But Jesus goes beyond, surpasses the letter and says: “But I say to you, if a man looks at a woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart”.
The objective of the commandment is reciprocal fidelity between man and woman who assume life together, as a married couple. And this fidelity will be complete only if both will know how to be faithful to one another in thought and in the desire and, will know how to reach a total transparency between them.
• Matthew 5, 29-30: Tear out your eye and cut off your hand. To illustrate what Jesus has just said, he states a hard word of which he serves himself on another occasion when he spoke of the scandal to little ones (Mt 18, 9 e Mc 9, 47). He says: If your right eye should be your downfall tear it out and throw it away: for it will do you less harm to lose one part of yourself than to have to have your whole body thrown into hell”. And he affirms the same thing concerning the hand. These affirmations cannot be taken literally. They indicate the radical nature and the seriousness with which Jesus insists on the observance of this commandment.
• Matthew 5, 31-32: The question of divorce. Man was permitted to give a certificate of divorce to the woman. In the discourse of the community, Jesus will say that Moses permitted this because the people were hard hearted (Mt 19, 8). “But I say to you: anyone who divorces his wife, give her a certificate of divorce; but I say to you: anyone who divorces his wife, except in the case of concubinage, exposes her to adultery and anyone who marries a divorced woman , commits adultery”. There has been much discussion on this theme. Basing itself on this affirmation of Jesus, the Oriental Church permits divorce in case of “fornication”, that is of infidelity. Others say that here the word fornication is the translation of an Aramaic or Hebrew word zenuth which indicated a valid marriage among people who were relatives, and which was forbidden. It would not be a valid marriage.
• Leaving aside the correct interpretation of this word, what is important is to see the objective and the general sense of the affirmation of Jesus in the new reading which is done of the Ten Commandments. Jesus speaks about an ideal which should always be before my eyes. The definitive ideal is: “to be perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5, 48). This ideal is valid for all the commandments reviewed by Jesus. In the rereading of the commandment “Do not commit adultery”, this ideal is translated as transparency and honesty between husband and wife. Even more, nobody can say: “I am perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect”. We will always be below the measure. We can never merit the reward because we will always be below the measure. What is important is to continue walking on the road, turn our look toward the ideal, always! But at the same time, as Jesus did, we have to accept persons with the same mercy with which he accepted persons and directed them toward the ideal. This is why, certain juridical exigencies of the Church today, for example, not to permit communion to those divorced persons living a second marriage, seem to be more in agreement with the attitude of the Pharisees than with that of Jesus. Nobody applies literally the explanation of the commandment “Do not kill”, where Jesus says that anyone who says idiot to his brother deserves hell (Mt 5, 22). Because if it was like that we would all have the entrance into hell guaranteed and nobody would be saved. Why does our doctrine use different measures in the case of the fifth and the ninth commandments?
4) Personal questions
• Do you succeed in living honesty and transparency totally with persons of the other sex?
• How is this to be understood: “to be perfect like the Heavenly Father is perfect?”
5) Concluding Prayer
Of you my heart has said,
'Seek his face!' Your face, Yahweh, I seek;
do not turn away from me.
Do not thrust aside your servant in anger,
without you I am helpless.
Never leave me, never forsake me, God, my Saviour.