In today’s first reading from Joshua 24, Joshua addresses the people, speaking for the Lord God. He reminds them of all the things that Lord had done for them and for their ancestors; mighty deeds that they could not take credit for. God was reminding them that it was He who had given them everything in His loving kindness.
In today’s Gospel passage from Matthew 19, we see Jesus’ teaching about marriage. From this teaching of Jesus we can better understand the teachings of the Church in matters concerning marriage. For many, these things are hard to accept. For some it seems, even impossible. Here is a brief recap of some of these teachings:
Marriage is a sacrament between one man and one woman: “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.” Many today wish to redefine marriage as being of anyone in a loving and committed relationship, including persons of the same sex. Jesus reiterates the definition of marriage that was “from the beginning.”
The indissolubility of marriage and the need for marriage to be annulled before one can marry again: “I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.” This is why the Church has annulments. The Church must be sure that there was not a valid, sacramental marriage from the beginning.
Priestly celibacy: “Some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven.” Celibate priests freely renounce the goods of marriage to serve God’s people. Celibacy is a gift from God, and men enter into it with full knowledge and consent.
As I said, for many, these teachings are hard to accept, even for some Christians. But these are the words and teachings of Christ Jesus Himself, and, aside from priestly celibacy, which is a discipline and not a doctrine, Holy Mother Church tells us that she cannot change them.
Father, we thank you for the sacrament of marriage. Strengthen all marriages, Lord. And help those who disagree with and dissent from these teachings of Christ to open their hearts to His truth. Amen.