14 June, 2013. Friday of the Tenth Week
2 Cor 4:7ff. Facing death for Jesus’ sake, so that his risen life may be revealed in us.
Matt 5:27ff. Perfect fidelity includes clear motives, especially in sexual matters.
First Reading: 2 Corinthians 4:7-15
We have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but no crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.
But just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture – “I believed, and so I spoke” – we also believe, and so we speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence. Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
Gospel: Matthew 5:27-32
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.
“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
Treasure in very earthen vessels
In Paul’s great phrase, we are only “earthen vessels,” not immune to suffering or temptation. Yet he assures us that we also “carry about in our bodies the dying of Jesus, so that in our bodies the life of Jesus also may be revealed.”
Jesus’ proverbial words also articulate genuine ideals which may not be fully realizable in the here and now, or would even be wrong to literally implement. It would surely be mistaken to literally gouge out one’s eye or to hack off one’s hand, just because they lead us into trouble. There is a shock treatment in his mode of address, like his other words about “hating” father and mother in order to love God (Mt 10:37). What Jesus says about adultery, whether in the heart only, by lusting after another person, or in action by breaking up a happy marriage, must be taken seriously, as a practical ideal. He sets up goals for us, and though we are tempted and at times falter, they remain precious guidelines for living. We know we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that grace comes from God and not from our own merits.