Matthew Chapter 19

Jesus speaks about divorce

1 When Jesus had finished this teach ing, he left Galilee and arrived at the border of Judea, on the other side of the Jordan River.

2 A great crowd was with him and there, too, he healed their sick.

3 Some Pharisees approached him. They wanted to test him and asked, ¡°Is a man allowed to divorce his wife for any reason he wants?¡±

4 Jesus replied, ¡°Have you not read that in the beginning the Creator made them male and female,

5 and he said: Man has now to leave father and mother, and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one body?

6 So they are no longer two but one body; let no one separate what God has joined.¡±

7 They asked him, ¡°Then, why did Moses command us to write a bill of dismissal in order to divorce?¡±

8 Jesus replied, ¡°Moses knew your stubborn heart, so he allowed you to divorce your wives, but it was not so in the beginning.

9 Therefore I say to you: who ever divorces his wife, unless it be for concubinage, and marries another, commits adultery.¡±

10 The disciples said, ¡°If that is the condition of a married man, it is better not to marry.¡±

11 Jesus said to them, ¡°Not everybody can accept what you have just said, but only those who have received this gift.

12 There are eunuchs born so from their mother¡¯s womb. Some have been made that way by others. But there are some who have given up the possibility of marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who can accept it, accept it.¡±

Jesus and the children

13 Then little children were brought to Jesus that he might lay his hands on them with a prayer. But the disciples scolded those who brought them.

14 Jesus then said, ¡°Let them be! Do not stop the children from coming to me, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to people such as these.¡±

15 So Jesus laid his hands on them and went his way.

The rich young man

16 It was then that a young man approached him and asked, ¡°Master, what good work must I do to receive eternal life?¡±

17 Jesus answered, ¡°Why do you ask me about what is good?¡± Only one is Good. If you want to enter eternal life, keep the commandments.¡±

18 The young man said, ¡°Which commandments?¡± Jesus replied, ¡°Do not kill, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness,

19 honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself.¡±

20 The young man said to him, ¡°I have kept all these commandments, what is still lacking?¡±

21 Jesus an swered, ¡°If you wish to be perfect, go and sell all that you possess and give the money to the poor and you will become the owner of a treasure in heaven. Then come back and follow me.¡±

22 On hearing this answer, the young man went away sad for he was a man of great wealth.

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, ¡°Truly I say to you: it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.

24 Yes, believe me: it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.¡±

25 On hearing this the disciples were astonished and said, ¡°Who, then, can be saved?¡±

26 Jesus looked steadily at them and answered, ¡°For humans it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.¡±

27 Then Peter spoke up and said, ¡°You see we have given up everything to follow you: what will be our lot?¡±

28 Jesus answered, ¡°You who have followed me, listen to my words: on the Day of Renew al, when the Son of Man sits on his throne in glory, you, too, will sit on twelve thrones to rule the twelve tribes of Israel.

29 As for those who have left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children or property for my Name¡¯s sake, they will receive a hundredfold and be given eternal life.

30 Many who are now first will be last, and many who are now last will be first.


Comments Mathew, Chapter 19

• 19.1 See commentary on Mark 10:2; Matthew 5:31.

Every human society has had its laws on marriage, and it was the same for Israel. There was then a law on divorce, in harmony with the difference of status accorded by society to man and woman; it was in Scripture (Dt 24:1). Jesus does not want to be involved in the discussions of teachers and interpreters of the Law: he opposes this law with another word of Scripture which presents God¡¯s point of view regarding human attitudes which he tolerates.

In doing this Jesus shows how he brings the Law to ¡°perfection¡± (5:17), but clearly this ¡°law of God¡± can only be heard by those who have received the Spirit from Jesus, a fact that is em phasized in the reaction of the disciples (v. 10).

Better not to marry (v. 10). Jesus does not apologize for these demanding words. He only proposes something more difficult to understand. He praises those to whom have been given to choose celibacy as a way of life for love of the Kingdom.

• 16. See commentary on Mark 10:17.

Jesus faces a question. He discloses three aspects and gives three answers:

Only one is Good (v. 17). This man has been captivated by the personality of Jesus, and Jesus, as always, directs him to the Father. There is, in fact, a distortion to Christian faith, dangerous as it is subtle: to speak only of Jesus: ¡°Jesus sees you¡­¡± ¡°Jesus loves you¡­¡± ¡°Jesus is love¡­¡± as if we were not living for God. Love of the Father means wanting to be perfect as the Father is and working for his Kingdom. First of all it needs to be free, and the rich can only be free through voluntary poverty.

This man also wanted to know how to receive eternal life (the text says in Hebrew style ¡°to have in heritage¡±) and Jesus will clearly state at the end, that even if we obey the commandments, we do not ¡°merit¡± eternal life: salvation is always a gift of God.

Finally there is the question that bothers us most for all that touches money affects us deeply, and it is there that the Gospel shocks us: it is easier for a camel¡­

The call of the rich young man has always been considered the model of the religious, apostolic vocation. Without effective, voluntary poverty a person will never attain union with God that is the goal of the true religious. Besides, as long as the apostles share the life of comfortable people, they will be able to be their friends but they will never have deep conversions nor will they during this time reach the immense world of the poor.

The problem of poverty is also at the heart of the family in today¡¯s world: for the greater number, believers or non-believers, the joys and blessings that God showers on a large family will only be given to those who have ceased to evaluate everything according to the criteria of money and security.