GOD’S WORD FOR THE DAY – 18TH AUGUST 2017
GOD’S WORD FOR THE DAY (based on Catholic Liturgical Readings)
DATE: 18TH AUGUST 2017
FRIDAY OF THE NINETEENTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
FIRST READING: Joshua 24:1-3
PSALM: Psalm 136:1-3, 16-18, 21-22,24
GOSPEL: Matthew 19:3-12
THEME: LET ANYONE ACCEPT THIS WHO CAN
There is a raging storm that is wreaking havoc to many marriages. It is sad to hear about some marriages breaking down after two weeks – Yes, two weeks after a big wedding, a marriage breaks down😳!!! This is largely due to the misconceptions that people have about the institution called marriage. Many young people today conceive marriage as one big funfair event and so when the fun diminishes, they soon become disinterested in that which is meant for a lifetime. Elderly married couples who have perseveringly journeyed on the path of marriage would be the first to attest that it is not always fun. It calls for commitment.
In response to a question of divorce, Jesus said to his audience: “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’?” (Mat 19:4-5). He also adds: “Now I say this to you: anyone who divorces his wife – except for the case of ‘porneia’– and marries another, is guilty of adultery” (Mt. 19:9).
The “exceptive clause of Matthew” has often been a subject of theological debate among biblical theologians. The translation of the word “porneia” varies in different Bibles. For example, the KJV translates it as ‘fornication’ and the NJB has it as ‘illicit marriage’; the NAS translates it as ‘immorality’ and the RSV has it as ‘unchastity’. The word itself embraces various unsanctioned sexual perversions, including incest, adultery etc. In fact it is from this same Greek word that we have the English word pornography. The word is even used in some contexts as a metaphor for idolatry.
However, within the context of the statement of Jesus in response to the question of divorce, “porneia” can best be interpreted as unlawful marriage – that which fundamentally distorts marriage itself. In other words, it refers to cases where there was a semblance but no real marriage in the first place.
The above teaching of Jesus on marriage is tough. Rightly so, his disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry” (Mt. 19:10). In response, Jesus said, Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given…Let anyone accept this who can” (Mt. 19:11-12).
Marriage, for a Christian, is not a mere union of two people. It is a vocation. In other words, it is a divine call and has its own unchanging ‘terms and conditions’. We cannot change a divine institution to accommodate our desires; we need to change our desires to be accommodated by the divine institution.
Marriage is beautiful but like any vocation, it has its own cross. As Jesus embraced his cross in his vocation, may we not run away when the crosses of our vocations beckon us to carry them, for a cross is a blessing in disguise.
One marriage counsellor said to a would-be couple at their first pre-marriage counselling session: “Friends, marriage is not for babies…If you have not learnt how to deal with your diapers, do not easily rush into it.”
PRAYER: Eternal Father, I surrender completely to your call. I do not ask you to change your call to suit me. I ask you to change me to suit your call. Amen
Andrews Obeng, svd
DIVINE WORD MISSIONARIES
BIBLICAL PASTORAL MINISTRY
“May the darkness of sin and the night of unbelief vanish before the light of the Word and the Spirit of grace. And may the heart of Jesus live in the hearts of all people” (St. Arnold Janssen).