GOSPEL READING: Matthew 19:3-12
3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, `For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” 7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” 8 He said to them, “For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery.” 10 The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is not expedient to marry.” 11 But he said to them, “Not all men can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. 12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it.”
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.
Whether married or single – be consecrated for the Lord
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?
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.
1 O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures for ever.
2 O give thanks to the God of Gods, for his steadfast love endures for ever.
3 O give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures for ever;
16 to him who led his people through the wilderness, for his steadfast love endures for ever;
17 to him who smote great kings, for his steadfast love endures for ever;
18 and slew famous kings, for his steadfast love endures for ever;
21 and gave their land as a heritage, for his steadfast love endures for ever;
22 a heritage to Israel his servant, for his steadfast love endures for ever.
24 and rescued us from our foes, for his steadfast love endures for ever;
Daily Quote from the Early Church Fathers: Don’t separate what God has joined together, by John Chrysostom (347-407 AD)
“Then he showed that it is a fearful thing to tamper with this law. When establishing this law, he did not say, ‘Therefore, do not sever or separate’ but ‘What God has joined together, let man not separate.’ If you quote Moses, I will quote the God of Moses, and with him I am always strong. For God from the beginning made them male and female. This law is very old, even if it appears human beings have recently discovered it. It is firmly fixed. And God did not simply bring the woman to her husband but ordered her also to leave her father and mother. And he not only ordered the man to go to the woman but also to cling to her, showing by his way of speaking that they could not be separated. And not even with this was God satisfied, but he sought also for another greater union: ‘for the two shall be one flesh.'” (excerpt from THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW, HOMILY 62.1)
Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers can be found here.
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