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Vocation to Love
Friday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.” Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, your words are challenging, but grant me the grace to see beyond the difficulty to the invitation to life and love.
- “It Was Not like That From the Beginning”: Jesus was questioned about the lawfulness of divorce. As a good and wise teacher he invited them to take a step back and see the bigger picture. He referred them to the beginning of creation, to the purpose and meaning of their own creation as man and woman. He reminded them of the vocation to love that is written in the very design of sexuality, in the primacy of nature, a truth difficult to swallow in a post-Christian culture. He did not stuff them with doctrinal laws, but drew upon their theological memory, reminding them of a God who created them for something greater than what human law formulates.
- “Because of Your Hardness of Heart”: Moses had permitted divorce because of the hardness of heart. What does this tell us about God’s pedagogy? He invites us to the fullness of life, but it requires an open heart willing to embrace the consequences of sacrificial love. Yet, he also seeks to meet us where we are, hoping that we will come, by approximations, closer to the fullness of life. Let us ask the Lord to be enlightened as to any signs of hardness of heart in our life, and accept Jesus’ invitation to a fullness of life and love.
- Living like Eunuchs: In the time of Jesus, there were some who would dedicate themselves to the study of law and forsake marriage. There were also those who were made eunuchs by nature or by man. But here, Jesus alluded to those who chose to live in a loving relationship that transcended time. They sought to live the fullness of surrender to God in this temporal realm. Theirs was a divine invitation, not without its challenges and temptations, requiring a daily loving oblation, but rewarded by an intimacy with God.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, open my heart to my particular vocation to love. Grant that I may draw from the consolation of being called by you so as to live my vocation to the fullest.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will pray for married couples and consecrated persons whom you place on my heart, and I will be attentive and grateful for your daily invitation to love.
For Further Reflection: Discernment of Spirits, Rule 10.
Jennifer Ristine is a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi dedicated to spiritual and faith formation through teaching, conferences, writing, and spiritual direction. While serving in Ancient Magdala she wrote Mary Magdalene: Insights from Ancient Magdala and “Nine Days with Mary Magdalene.”