FRIDAY OF THE NINETEENTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

August 18, 2017

Joshua 24: 1-13

 

Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel; and they presented themselves before God. And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Long ago your ancestors—Terah and his sons Abraham and Nahor—lived beyond the Euphrates and served other gods. Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River and led him through all the land of Canaan and made his offspring many. I gave him Isaac; and to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. I gave Esau the hill country of Seir to possess, but Jacob and his children went down to Egypt. Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt with what I did in its midst; and afterwards I brought you out. When I brought your ancestors out of Egypt, you came to the sea; and the Egyptians pursued your ancestors with chariots and horsemen to the Red Sea. When they cried out to the Lord, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and made the sea come upon them and cover them; and your eyes saw what I did to Egypt. Afterwards you lived in the wilderness a long time. Then I brought you to the land of the Amorites, who lived on the other side of the Jordan; they fought with you, and I handed them over to you, and you took possession of their land, and I destroyed them before you. Then King Balak son of Zippor of Moab, set out to fight against Israel. He sent and invited Balaam son of Beor to curse you, but I would not listen to Balaam; therefore he blessed you; so I rescued you out of his hand. When you went over the Jordan and came to Jericho, the citizens of Jericho fought against you, and also the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and I handed them over to you. I sent the hornet ahead of you, which drove out before you the two kings of the Amorites; it was not by your sword or by your bow. I gave you a land on which you had not labored, and towns that you had not built, and you live in them; you eat the fruit of vineyards and oliveyards that you did not plant.

 

 

Psalm 136: 1-3, 16-18, 21-22, 24

 

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,

    for his steadfast love endures forever.

O give thanks to the God of gods,

    for his steadfast love endures forever.

O give thanks to the Lord of lords,

    for his steadfast love endures forever;

who led his people through the wilderness,

    for his steadfast love endures forever;

who struck down great kings,

    for his steadfast love endures forever;

and killed famous kings,

    for his steadfast love endures forever;

and gave their land as a heritage,

    for his steadfast love endures forever;

a heritage to his servant Israel,

    for his steadfast love endures forever.

O give thanks to the God of heaven,

    for his steadfast love endures forever.

 

 

Matthew 19: 3-12

 

Some Pharisees came to him, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 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’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command us to give a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her?” He said to them, “It was because you were so hard-hearted that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another commits adultery.”

 

His disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” But he said to them, “Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”

 

Mediation 

 

There is a notion and belief by many that marriage is a human right. But Jesus does not speak of marriage in this way. In Christ’s words, marriage was designed by God to bring man and woman together to be one-flesh and therefore fully represent God through healthy partnership. But given the fall of humanity into sin and away from, our estrangement from the Lord estranged us from one another. Therefore, marriage is deeply and inherently holy because it pre-dates the fall of man, and it is also then designed to aid in bringing salvation into the world as it unites man and woman under God. This unity points to the divine uniter and should be a source of evangelism for all who know the couple, a source of evangelism as they become a family and raise others to believe in Him, and a means toward salvation as the man and woman die to their flesh and selfish desires for the sake of the other.

 

It is a mystery what all Jesus is saying when He says that some are born unable to marry and others are made that way. Many commentaries reference the culture of men being made eunuchs in that day and age. Our Lord may be stating that marriage centers on the ability of two people bearing children, and therefore a union beyond that would not be marriage. Theologically this makes sense because as our God is three in one, when a man and woman bear children, the union of two people produces a third (or more) replicating the nature of our triune God. Once more, this illustrates how marriage is designed to draw the world to the Lord, rather than being a space of self-satisfaction.

 

However, many, if not most, people yearn to have this connection with another and the notion of not being granted earthly marriage by God is unbearable apart from Christ. The desire for intimacy, love, self-sacrifice, and to be fully known seem to be inherently human. Maybe the expression of marriage as a human right actually speaks to the nature of our lives belonging to God. God desires intimacy with us. He gave His whole body over for us in self-sacrifice, and He knows us more deeply than we even know ourselves. We are all called to enter into a marriage covenant with God - a life-long, whole hearted commitment where we share and sacrifice each part of ourselves with Him and let ourselves be fully known. This is how some can renounce earthly marriage for the sake of the kingdom, because all are called into profound relationship first and foremost with God.

 

Inside any vocation is the grace of God. For those of us called to be married, God desires to give us grace to die to ourselves and love our spouse and our family. For those of us called to celibacy, God gives us the grace to receive comfort, satisfaction, and wholistic love from Him. God does not desire any person to be lonely, but rather to receive His love in healthy means that will ultimately bring us to heaven to be with Him for all eternity.

 

Prayer: Dear Jesus, I do not have the strength to live my life in a marriage covenant with you on my own. I need your grace to give myself fully to you and submit to your perfect love. Help me Lord to understand the love and sacrifice you displayed for me on the cross and live in to that as best I can. I love you Lord and desire to love you more!

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