Friday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
Adultery and divorce
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into Gehenna. “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce.’ But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Mt 5,27-32
Today’s Gospel tells us about two issues that are intertwined, like the roots of nearby trees: adultery and marital separation. They would be different topics, but the evangelist Matthew gathered them together, perhaps because they were much talked about in his environment back in those days. It is a deduction supported by the fact that he is the only evangelist who considers as legal the marital separation in the case of concubinage. Among the other evangelists, only Mark deals with the topic of adultery, but he does not mention the same legal exception. However, since separation and divorce are highly debated topics today too, we stick to Matthew’s plot. The scandal, according to the doctrine of the Church, is the behavior that causes others to do evil deeds, and its heaviness depends on the authority of the one who causes it and the smallness who is victim of it. This is the case of the behavior of some priests and many parents towards their children. Let the Church deal with the first one and let us focus on the latter, which concerns us more closely. If the parents were aware of the disasters that adultery and divorce produce in the children’s mental development and psyche, they would be less practiced. They are real scandal, blocking the children’s emotional growth like a sudden freeze in the springtime stops plants from flowering. We accepting the invitation of the gospel to be vigilant and, if necessary, even violent with ourselves, in order not to be the cause for scandal. Today, the Lord tells us: “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away …. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away”. These are the main pruning that the gospel requires of a married couple: the courage to trim off those feelings and behaviors that risk to harm conjugal love and family peace. These cuts, like any pruning, take something away, but make the plant more beautiful and lusher.