19th Friday in Ordinary Time
Joshua 24:1-13; Matthew 19:3-12
“I gave you a land that you had not tilled and cities that you had not built, to dwell in; you have eaten of vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant” (Jos. 24:13). Everything we have has been given to us by God as a sign of His abundant kindness. We are called to persevere in love, strengthened by the virtues of generosity, commitment, fidelity and supporting with the greatest patience one another’s weaknesses. Because we have been loved by God, we are to be signs of mercy and peace to others. Sharing freely what we have received freely. We are empowered to be instruments of peace and healing to a broken and wound world. Through our acts of mercy, the Lord continues to build up His kingdom in our day.
Carl Jung once said: “You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.” It is through our acts of love and mercy that we show His mercy to all who seek it. Knowledge of God’s love and mercy is the source of hope and consolation for a world held captive by hatred and despair. Having received the implanted Word, we can help provide for the heavenly harvest. The words of man are often frail and untrustworthy. God’s Word, however, is faithful and true. We have only to recall the words spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you to myself with loving kindness” (Jer. 31:3).
Repeatedly God has assured his people of his love for them. Even when they had strayed from the path of life, he sought them out with a shepherd’s heart. God who is love will draw all mankind to himself. God who calls us to himself will give us the grace we need to respond and the strength we need to follow. Once the Word of God takes root in our hearts, it makes us heirs of the kingdom and brothers and sisters one to the other. It teaches us to carry one another’s burdens. It enables us to bear with the greatest of patience each other’s infirmities of soul and body. It enables us to die to ourselves and to seek first the peace and well-being of the other, standing by them in good times and in bad.
In today’s gospel reading Jesus enters into a discussion about marriage with some Pharisees. First, he asserts that marriage is from God. God created man and woman in his image. When they are united in a creative act of love, they become the “living reflection” of the triune God, who is a “communion of love.” In his apostolic exhortation The Joy of Love, Pope Francis encourages husbands and wives to value the gifts of marriage and family. He pleads with them to persevere in a bond of love that is strengthened by generosity, fidelity, and patience. As a community of faith, the Church must help men and women better respond to God’s free call. The mystery of spousal love can only be fully understood in the light of the Father’s infinite love revealed in the Word Incarnate, who sacrificed himself up for our sake. Only when husbands and wives treasure the memory of the Lord’s loving-kindness for them that they will be able to sacrifice themselves for one another. May the knowledge of Christ’s love fill the hearts of every married couple with everlasting joy.