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Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Joshua 24:1-13 & Mt. 19:3-12

Some Pharisees attempt to test Jesus by asking Him whether it is lawful or not to divorce, in today's Gospel reading. His answer to them amazes His disciples as well. The teaching on the indissolubility of marriage appeared too strict to them, and they concluded that it would be better, then, not to marry at all.

People who have lived long together, and whom others consider as successful in their marriage, can testify that their union has not been without its difficulties. They chose to stick together in obedience to God’s command and with His help, and out of loyalty to each other and for the benefit of the children.

Usually, part of the joy of the evening of their lives consists in looking back on all the apparently insurmountable difficulties of their life which, rather than tearing them apart, helped to cement their relationship that then flowered in better times.

What happens within a family can also happen on a national scale. In the long narrative of the first reading Joshua invites the lsraelites to look back into their history, and contemplate all the marvels achieved by God in getting them through situations which they could never have surmounted by human effort alone. Theirs was a history of complaining, of grumbling and of rebellion. Yet at every stage all God required of them was to have faith in Him and to obey His commandments. He would do the rest.

Joshua narrated their history to them so that in gratitude they can recommit themselves wholeheartedly to God, confident in His power to lead them. We can look back into our particular histories and see the work of God in situations in which we could never have managed without His help. No matter what our vocation in life may be, fidelity to God is an impossible task, if we rely on our efforts alone. But for anyone who relies on God's help, success is guaranteed no matter what the odds.

Lord Jesus, keep us loyal to you and to one another. In doing this we will find true peace and happiness, with You and each other in Heaven if not in this life.

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