The Gospel reading from the Mass for Friday of the 19th Week of Ordinary Time is Matthew 19:3-12.

The Pharisees, as part of their plot to kill Christ, seek to discredit Him on the topic of divorce; Christ’s teaching that divorce is forbidden contradicted Moses’ long-established allowance of divorce. The Pharisees realize that Christ’s position on divorce was the same as John the Baptist’s; by publicizing Christ’s forbidding of divorce, the Pharisees scheme to get the divorced Herod to kill Christ as he killed John the Baptist.

Christ humiliates the learned Pharisees by exposing their lack of understanding of Scripture by referring to Moses’ own words inspired by God in Genesis (it was held that Moses was inspired to write Genesis) that describes man, woman, marriage and forbids divorce (Gen 2:24); God made two sexes, male and female, and supernaturally binds man and woman together in an unbreakable bond of marriage. He responds to the Pharisees’ second question (“Why then did Moses…”) by revealing Moses allowed divorce because of the “hardness” of hearts and that He absolutely forbids divorce and remarriage, condemning “remarriage” as adultery.

Christ’s “except for unchastity” is not an exception; Catholic understanding has always been that divorce is absolutely forbidden; the Greek word for “unchastity” (porneia) can also mean incest (blood relatives can not marry, if if they do, they must divorce). The disciples’ response that it is perhaps better not to marry confirms that Christ strictly forbids divorce with no exceptions. Christ releases men from the vocation of marriage who are sexually impotent (by birth or because of castration) and those men who become celibate priests for the sake of the Kingdom.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, with the Father from the beginning, Christ knows Moses’ rationale for the temporary allowance of divorce; on His own authority, Christ forbids divorce, overturning centuries of flawed Jewish practice. Divine King, Christ forcefully rebukes those who attack, decisively destroying their feeble attempts at traps and arguments. Divine Priest, Christ lays the foundation for the celibate male priesthood.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Men, seeking to change the world, attempt to speak with authority, citing public opinion, logic, the latest science, emotion or historical precedent; all of these sources of authority come from imperfect humans. Marvel at the boldness of Christ, the only man in history, whose authority is because He is God; Christ is the unalterable Divine Truth.

2) Today, there is broad rebellion against God’s unchanging truth that marriage is the permanent, exclusive union of a man and a woman ( e.g. non-married “partners”, homosexual “marriage”, polygamous “marriages”, etc). Renew your understanding of the Offenses Against the Dignity of Marriage (CCC 2387-2391; elsewhere the Church categorically condemns homosexual unions) and pray for Christ to help you fearlessly respect the dignity of marriage, in your own life and in your public profession.

3) Recently, some in the Church have heretically claimed that civily-divorced Catholics may “ remarry” and not be in a state of adultery; this is false. Review the Catechism’s unchangeable teaching about Adultery and Divorce (CCC 1640, 1650, 1664, 2380-2386, 2400) and pray for those who rebel against Christ’s teaching about adultery and divorce.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Sorrowful Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Passion and Death of our Lord Jesus Christ

Virtue of the Day – Faith

Corporal Work of Mercy – To visit the sick

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To forgive all injuries