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 5, 27-32

'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.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This Gospel passage continues the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount, in which Jesus brings the old law to fulfilment. He does not negate it; he completes it by surpassing it with love, as we just saw with the sixth commandment: “You shall not kill.” Now Jesus mentions the seventh commandment, “You shall not commit adultery.” This rule obliged both husbands and wives not to betray each other and hence to keep their marriage bond intact. Jesus does not abolish this commandment, but he knows that a mere external observation of it is not enough to guaranty the integrity of a marriage. The heart - a deep, interior involvement - is needed to build a solid and stable family. This is why Jesus continues, “Everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” In fact, it is what comes from the heart that defiles a person. Jesus will say later, “For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile” (Mt 15:19-20). It is essential - and not just in married life - to have ties that bind our lives deeply with the lives of others. Love - the commitment to bind oneself to others - should be subject to our passing and selfish feelings. In the case of marriage, and not only, love means to choose to live together for life. This sort of love was introduced at the climax of creation, when, after creating Adam, God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone.” It is an affirmation of the superiority of fellowship over loneliness. This leads us to say that man and woman are the image of God together, not by themselves. Fully aware of this dimension of marriage, Jesus brings what began in creation to fulfilment: he reminds his listeners of the unbreakable bond of marriage, even in light of the tradition of divorce, and exalts the original vocation, the stability, of the love between men and women and of other bonds. For Jesus, the effort to build up a stable communion between men and women is the very purpose of life. It is not good for man to be alone; it is not good for the family to be alone; it is not good for a city to be alone; it is not good for a people to be alone. It is good for the whole world to be built up as one, diverse family, from the domestic family to the family of nations. The love that Jesus demands is a commitment to building a world with the features of God’s own love. It is a choice irreconcilably opposed to the instinct to satisfy our personal feelings at all costs. This is why Jesus does not hesitate to say, “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” And the same goes for our hand. Every concession to selfishness undermines love. It is a serious matter to follow the Gospel, and we cannot let our selfish behaviour make us stumbling blocks (the meaning of “scandal”) for our brothers and sisters. It is better to lose our eye or our hand if they cause us to stumble. With this hyperbole, Jesus is referring to the cuts we must make in our instincts, which are rooted in our heart.