Memory of Jesus crucified

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Matthew 19, 2-12

Large crowds followed him and he healed them there.

Some Pharisees approached him, and to put him to the test they said, 'Is it against the Law for a man to divorce his wife on any pretext whatever?'

He answered, 'Have you not read that the Creator from the beginning made them male and female

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?

They are no longer two, therefore, but one flesh. So then, what God has united, human beings must not divide.'

They said to him, 'Then why did Moses command that a writ of dismissal should be given in cases of divorce?'

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.

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.'

The disciples said to him, 'If that is how things are between husband and wife, it is advisable not to marry.'

But he replied, 'It is not everyone who can accept what I have said, but only those to whom it is granted.

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.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Jesus’ mission in Judea is beginning and is where he will remain until the end of his days. A great crowd is following him, and, as always, he continues to teach and heal the sick people who are brought to him. Obviously his work, which already met obstacles in Galilee, will find even greater opposition here. The spirit of evil does not cease its absolute opposition to the Gospel. The Pharisees become its instruments and ask Jesus about "divorcing" a wife: whether is lawful to divorce her for "any cause," as some people maintained. There was considerable debate on this question at that time. Jesus, however, does not enter directly into the question and prefers to remind them of God’s original will concerning the union between a man and a woman: the family should be based on indissoluble love. If Moses later allowed divorce, it was because of the human and spiritual coarseness of the Jews of that time. In short, not only does Jesus not accept the interpretation of the rabbis, he condemns the practice of divorce that was more or less allowed by the Pharisees. Jesus reaffirms the absolute primacy of love in all human relationships and therefore also between the man and woman who unite in matrimony; there love cannot be dissolved. These are high and demanding words. They seem problematic even to the disciples, who express their disappointment by saying that it is not a good idea to get married. Irrevocability already seemed like a heavy burden back then, and today it seems even heavier in a cultural climate in which any thought of stability seems impossible. But Jesus is very clear and determined. Without commenting on what the disciples just said, he continues to speak about continence: there are those who "have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven." The choice not to marry in order to dedicate oneself completely to God does not discredit matrimony, but it certainly underlines the radicality of choosing God. It is as if to say that some people demonstrate the God is all they need through their very existence. It is an act that appears paradoxical, but it is the consequence of the Gospel choice that responds to one of the spiritual dimensions of the Church: a person does not tie him or herself to anyone else besides Jesus alone. In this sense, being celibate for the Lord has an extraordinary value, not because it demonstrates someone’s capacity for self-sacrifice, but because it indicates a radical option for the Lord.