Some Pharisees came to him, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason 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. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
They said to him, “Why then did Moses command us to give a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her?” He said to them, “It was because you were so hard-hearted that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another commits adultery.” His disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.”
But he said to them, “Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
I like to think that I am kind, compassionate, and loving. I am especially kind, compassionate, and loving to those whom I deem “worthy.” Jesus pointed out the hard-heartedness of the Pharisees. Jesus points out my hard-heartedness too. When I restrict my kindness and compassion, I am restricting love. In this way, I commit adultery—I am not being faithful to God.
Following Jesus requires constant self-examination. This can be exhausting and might cause us to despair: we will always find places where our hearts have calcified. Like the disciples, we might be tempted to say “This is too hard. Isn’t there an easier way?” But Jesus assures us that this is the way to heaven.
Look back on your day. Identify moments when you might have been hard-hearted: When did you fail to show love, kindness, and compassion? Ask Jesus to show you how to be whole-hearted in those moments.
—Bob Burnham, OFS, a Secular Franciscan and spiritual director, writes and edits for Loyola Press in Chicago.
Jesus, I feel within me
a great desire to please you
but, at the same time,
I feel totally incapable of doing this
without your special light and help,
which I can expect only from you.
Accomplish your will within me—
even in spite of me.
—St. Claude La Colombière, inHearts on Fire: Praying with Jesuits, ed. Michael Harter, S.J. (Chicago: Loyola Press, 2004).