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Friday – Seventh Week – OT2
Readings: Jam 5:9-12; Mk 10:1-12.
1/ Reading I: RSV James 5:9 Do not grumble, brethren, against one another, that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the doors. 10 As an example of suffering and patience, brethren, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we call those happy who were steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. 12 But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath, but let your yes be yes and your no be no that you may not fall under condemnation.
2/ Gospel: RSV Mark 10:1 And he left there and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again; and again, as his custom was, he taught them. 2 And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3 He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to put her away.” 5 But Jesus said to them, “For your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. 6 But from the beginning of creation, `God made them male and female.’ 7 `For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” 10 And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11 And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
I. THEME: Be patient and faithful with our promise.
In today society, we witness more and more many people who are unfaithful with their promises to God and others: apostasy, laicization, divorce, parents forsake their baby, children kill their parents. There are many reasons that cause these tragedies; but there are two marked reasons which are selfishness and have no fear of God.
Today readings give some reasons that lead to unfaithfulness and some necessary virtues to help people to be faithful to God and others. In the first reading, St. James emphasized the virtue of patience in suffering so that people can live with others while they wait for Christ’s second coming. Perseverance is the necessary way for people to show their love for God and others. In the Gospel, the Pharisees wanted to test Jesus to see if he has a different teaching with Moses about divorce. Jesus straightforwardly answered them that the law that prohibits divorce is the divine law which is established from the beginning and unchanged. The reason why Moses permitted divorce is due to the stubbornness of people, not of God’s law. If people fear God, they shall not dare to do this.
1/ Reading I: Be patient and steadfast since the Last Day is coming.
1.1/ Be prepared by acquiring virtues: St. James used the image of the farmer during their waiting time for the harvest; they must fertilizer their land, prune branches, kill insects so trees shall give more and good fruits. Similarly for human beings, they not only wait patiently for the second coming of Christ but also persevere in prayers and acquire all necessary virtues. St. James listed two things the faithful must do in today passage:
(1) To live in harmony with others: People used to take themselves as the standard to judge others, though it is very nearsighted and unjust. The best way that helps people to live in harmony with others is never to judge those whom they have no responsibility. This way also helps them not to be judged by God because, “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get” (Mt 7:2). He advised his faithful, “Do not grumble, brethren, against one another, that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the doors.”
(2) To imitate the prophets’ life: St. James advised people to imitate the prophets’ faithfulness, “As an example of suffering and patience, brethren, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we call those happy who were steadfast.” The prophets don’t fear to receive bad results from speaking of the truth, even people’s hatred and persecution. Moreover, since people aren’t easy to change, they must be patient in waiting for people to change and to help people to reconcile with God.
1.2/ The meaning of suffering: St. James reminded people the story of Job. God let Satan persecute Job to his limit to see if he is faithful in serving Him. Job triumphed over all Satan’s trials and was faithful to God to the end. He rewarded Job bountifully because of his perseverance. Moreover, according to St. James (1:2-4) and St. Paul (Rom 5:3-4), suffering makes people who used to suffer become perfect; nothing can shake their faith.
About swearing, James repeated what Christ taught his disciples (Mt 5:33-37). Does Christ prohibit people to swear under any situation? According to the passage, he doesn’t prohibit it; but emphasized the fact that people must speak the truth, “Let your yes be yes and your no be no that you may not fall under condemnation.”
Therefore, once people say yes to God or to others, they must keep their word even though they must sacrifice or lose their body. To the people who are always faithful to their words, swearing is useless; and to the people who aren’t faithful to their words, swearing is also useless because they don’t intend to honor them.
2/ Gospel: Choosing a loyal spouse
2.1/ The problem of divorce: It happens everywhere and in all generations; it isn’t a new problem or only occurring in modern countries. Jesus’ answer is clear and the Church follows his teaching. Many people ask, “Why does the Church permit divorce if it is God’s law?” We need to differentiate two things. Firstly, the ideal which God wants people to attain. This ideal never changes and in reality, many couples reach this ideal when they are loyal with each other until death though they must overcome countless of sufferings. Secondly, weakness and sins prevent people from reaching this ideal. When people fail to reach the ideal, it isn’t meant that God’s ideal can’t be achieved or His law is wrong; but people must be humble and to recognize their weakness and sins and repent.
2.2/ Why does the Church absolve marriage? The Church annuls marriages because of human weakness and sins. There are many reasons for annulments. In general, people aren’t studied or despise the sacrament of Matrimony; for examples: Firstly, parents, due to their desire of power, fame or wealth, forced their child to marry the one whom he or she doesn’t like. In this case, their child lacks of freedom to marry. Secondly, people married without proper intention, such as: to marry in order to be settled in a foreign country, or to have money or any wrong intention. Most of these cases, the Church absolves their marriages due to the “lack of form” which means they didn’t follow the Church’s law; their marriages aren’t sacramental. Lastly, they didn’t carefully find out about each other before their marriage; for examples, they married the one who married, the one who is hindered to marry, the one who has not the same religion, etc.
In order to have a successful marriage, people need to pay attention to the following advices: Before getting married, they must carefully select their spouse. Pay a special attention to the spouse’s reverence of God. Don’t marry with the married people, those who are not in the same religion. After marriage, both of them must practice their religion and faithfully receive sacraments, especially the sacraments of Eucharist and Reconciliation because these sacraments give them strength to endure sufferings. In the case of people who are divorced, they need God’s grace to overcome their lonely and fleshy desires.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– Sufferings can’t be lacking in life; they are the means for us to show our faithful love for God and others.
– When God commands us to do anything, He equips us with means to do it. We need to trust Him and do what he teaches us, to acquire virtues daily and to use all graces which God bestows through sacraments.
– If we are faithful to God, He is faithful to us; but if we betray Him, He shall not receive us in the Last Day.