Friday of the 19th Week of Ordinary Time – Mt 19:3-12
Today’s first reading and Gospel point out two important characteristics of love, be it the love God has for us and that we should have for Him, or the love that spouses should have for each other, which is an image of that divine love. The first characteristic is exclusivity, meaning, that these loves don’t allow for anything or anyone else to get in the way. That all-encompassing gift of self can’t be shared with multiple people or things. God compares this with harlotry, as He rebukes Israel saying, “But you were captivated by your own beauty, you used your renown to make yourself a harlot, and you lavished your harlotry on every passer-by, whose own you became.” The second characteristic is permanence, meaning, the love must last forever, in spite of the difficulties or challenges it might encounter. If it gives up after a week, or a month, or even fifteen years, it’s not really love. As Pope Saint John Paul II said, “The one who can’t love forever, can’t even love for a day.” In other words, the person who can’t commit themselves to love and defend something forever, won’t be able to love and defend something even for a day, because what they have really isn’t love if it isn’t willing to stick around forever.
It seems the disciples are very aware of how difficult this is, since they essentially tell Jesus, “Well, if divorce isn’t possible, then it’s better just not to get married!” to which Jesus replies yes. But notice the reasons He gives for why people don’t marry: He doesn’t say that people don’t get married because they’re afraid to commit themselves, or because they want to make lots of money and not share it, but either because they are impeded from it for some reason that is not a personal choice (they were born so, or made so by others) or because they chose to renounce it in order to give witness to Christ and His Kingdom. No matter what, then, we are called to witness to God’s love in our lives, be it through marriage or through a whole-hearted surrender to God and His plan for us.
Today, we can ask ourselves about our love for God and, if we’re married, for our spouses. Is our love exclusive, only for God or that other person? What is there in my life that tries to make me share that love, that tries to steal it from my beloved? Is my love permanent, remaining firm in the midst of challenges and difficulties? Today, through the intercession of Mary, the Mother of Divine Love, let’s ask for the grace to love as Christ taught us, to the point of laying down of our lives for others.