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Liturgical day: Friday 19th in Ordinary Time

1st Reading (Josh 24:1-13): Joshua gathered together all the tribes of Israel at Shechem, summoning their elders, their leaders, their judges and their officers. When they stood in ranks before God, Joshua addressed all the people: «Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: In times past your fathers, down to Terah, father of Abraham and Nahor, dwelt beyond the River and served other gods. But I brought your father Abraham from the region beyond the River and led him through the entire land of Canaan. I made his descendants numerous, and gave him Isaac. To Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. To Esau I assigned the mountain region of Seir in which to settle, while Jacob and his children went down to Egypt. Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and smote Egypt with the prodigies which I wrought in her midst. Afterward I led you out of Egypt, and when you reached the sea, the Egyptians pursued your fathers to the Red Sea with chariots and horsemen. Because they cried out to the Lord, he put darkness between your people and the Egyptians, upon whom he brought the sea so that it engulfed them.

»After you witnessed what I did to Egypt, and dwelt a long time in the desert, I brought you into the land of the Amorites who lived east of the Jordan. They fought against you, but I delivered them into your power. You took possession of their land, and I destroyed them, the two kings of the Amorites, before you. Then Balak, son of Zippor, king of Moab, prepared to war against Israel. He summoned Balaam, son of Beor, to curse you; but I would not listen to Balaam. On the contrary, he had to bless you, and I saved you from him. Once you crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho, the men of Jericho fought against you, but I delivered them also into your power. And I sent the hornets ahead of you that drove them (the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites and Jebusites) out of your way; it was not your sword or your bow. I gave you a land that you had not tilled and cities that you had not built, to dwell in; you have eaten of vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant».
Responsorial Psalm: 135
R/. His mercy endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his mercy endures forever; give thanks to the God of gods, for his mercy endures forever; give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his mercy endures forever.

Who led his people through the wilderness, for his mercy endures forever; who smote great kings, for his mercy endures forever; and slew powerful kings, for his mercy endures forever.

And made their land a heritage, for his mercy endures forever; the heritage of Israel his servant, for his mercy endures forever; and freed us from our foes, for his mercy endures forever.
Verscicle before the Gospel (1Thess 2:13): Alleluia. Receive the word of god, not as the word of men, but, as it truly is, the word of God. Alleluia.

Gospel text (Mt 19,3-12): Some Pharisees approached Jesus. They wanted to test him and asked, «Is a man allowed to divorce his wife for any reason he wants?». Jesus replied, «Have you not read that in the beginning the Creator made them male and female, and he said: ‘Man has now to leave father and mother, and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one body’? So they are no longer two but one body; let no one separate what God has joined».

They asked him, «Then, why did Moses command us to write a bill of dismissal in order to divorce?». Jesus replied, «Moses knew your stubborn heart, so he allowed you to divorce your wives, but it was not so in the beginning. Therefore I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, unless it be for concubinage, and marries another, commits adultery».

The disciples said, «If that is the condition of a married man, it is better not to marry». Jesus said to them, «Not everybody can accept what you have just said, but only those who have received this gift. Some are born incapable of marriage. Some have been made that way by others. But there are some who have given up the possibility of marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who can accept it, accept it».

«Let no one separate what God has joined»

Fr. Roger J. LANDRY
(Hyannis, Massachusetts, United States)

Today, Jesus responds to his contemporaries questions about the true meaning of marriage by underlining its indissolubility.

His answer, however, also provides the adequate foundation for Christians to respond to those whose stubborn hearts have made them seek to extend the definition of marriage to homosexual couples.

In taking marriage back to God's original plan, Jesus underlines four things relevant to why only one man and one woman can be joined in marriage:

1) «In the beginning, the Creator made them male and female» (Mt 19:4). Jesus teaches that there is great meaning to our masculinity and femininity in God's plan. To ignore it is to ignore who we are.

2) «Man has now to leave father and mother and be joined to his wife» (Mt 19:5). God's plan is not that a man leave his parents and cling to whomever he wishes, but to a wife.

3) «The two shall become one body» (Mt 19:5). This bodily union goes beyond the short-lived physical union that occurs in the act of making love. It points toward the lasting union that happens when man and woman, through making love, actually procreate a child who is the perduring marriage or union of their bodies. It is obvious that man and man, and woman and woman, cannot become one body in this way.

4) «Let no one separate what God has joined» (Mt 19:6). God himself has joined man and woman in marriage and whenever we try to divide what he has joined, we do so at our own and all of society's expense.

In his catecheses on Genesis, Pope John Paul II said: «In his answer to the Pharisees, Christ put forward to his interlocutors the Total vision of man, without which no adequate answer can be given to questions connected with marriage». Each of us is called to be the “echo” of this Word of God in our own day.