“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.”
The reading and the gospel for today are about commitments. The former is about God’s commitment to the Israelites from the time of Abraham’s father, Terah, to the time of Joshua. Despite their many transgressions, God saved them from innumerable armies and rulers who were determined to conquer and enslave the Jewish people. They were God’s chosen people and His commitment and mercy endures forever.
The gospel reading from Matthew is the story of the Pharisees’ attempt to trap Jesus by asking if a man can divorce his wife. Jesus defends the commitment of marriage as originally intended and explains that divorce was allowed in the time of Moses only because of the “hardness of the hearts” of the Jewish people at the time. Jesus is very straightforward in his expectation that marriage is a permanent commitment.
As God told the Israelites, “…it was not your sword or your bow. 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.” For those who have been married for a long time, it is totally evident that we have not accomplished that long-term commitment on our own. At times, it is only with awareness of and reliance on God’s presence, providence and commitment to us that we are able to meet the commitment to each other.
(adapted from Susan Tinley)