2Cor 4:7-15; Ps 116:10-11,15-18; Mt 5:27-32
The death of his faithful ones is precious in the eyes of the LORD because they are precious in his eyes. Their self-sacrifice, their self-donation, their self-abandonment, indeed their death is but a reflection of the generosity of the LORD. Only the LORD is completely dependable; He alone is trustworthy. The LORD has chosen us to be his servants, the sons of his handmaid, and He has loosed our bonds of slavery to sin and vice. Through his Son, with his Son, in his Son and in the unity of the Holy Spirit we offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and we call upon the name of the LORD. Indeed we fulfill our vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people. Our vows made in Baptism, reaffirmed in Confirmation and renewed at every Easter, our vows to reject sin and vice and to cling to God alone. These vows are public, and they summon us to build up the Body of Christ by our faithfulness and our growth in virtue. The miracle of our vows is that the LORD is always near and encouraging; indeed, He is the one who enables us to make these vows, and He alone can help us to fulfill these vows. We gaze with delight upon the face of the LORD and our eyes are filled with the tears of repentance and gratitude, Alleluia!
The sign of the Cross is traced upon the Candidate for Baptism by the priest and by the people. This sign reveals that at the very core of the new identity of the Baptized he carries about in the Body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. The use of capital letters here indicates the personification of the Church as the Body of Christ, and the second reference is to the body as to the individual member of the Body of Christ. Sharing in the suffering of the Crucified Lord is essential if we are to share in the Resurrected Lord. With Saint Paul and the entire apostolic church we receive grace in abundance and our thanksgiving overflows as we grow from glory to glory. So we find in our constraint, in our perplexity, and in our persecution the very mystery of unity within the Body of Christ. We are one with each other in our suffering and in this same suffering we are one with the Lord Jesus Christ. Such a public manifestation of our identity with the Crucified and Risen Lord is the only thing that makes us sure of our vocation to holiness in Christ and makes known to all we meet the sheer delight we have in the mystery of his dying and rising. Indeed the Cross is our only friend, and it is becoming our only joy, Alleluia!
Abstaining from immoral behavior is just the beginning. Not committing adultery is essential to respecting marriage and family, indeed the whole structure of society in every generation. However, the morality of the New Moses goes beyond mere behavior. From the Divine Teacher we learn about a conversion of our core, attitudes and fantasies. The Lord Jesus challenges us to uproot the vice of lust from our hearts and our minds. To linger in the attraction of the moment is to foster the vice of lust, which can easily give rise to fantasy and immorality. The severe language of throwing away body parts that lead to sin is necessary to make the point in a culture where the dominant Roman morality allowed for all kinds of sexual entertainment. Even though the Jewish Tradition prohibited such dalliance, the dominant culture was having its influence and impact upon the more conservative attitudes of the Mosaic Law. So the Lord Jesus makes an appeal to the core value involved in this controversy, “It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into Gehenna.” It is better to be incomplete in this world, in a physical sense that to be eternally damned. Why make a moment of lusty pseudo-union the cause of an eternal solitude, an eternal lack of any union. A bill of divorce would free the wife, and make her open again to marriage. However, marriage back then and even today must never be reduced to a matter of convenience. Those who take commitment seriously cannot trivialize it. It can never be put aside lightly by those who respect human sexual intimacy as a true and lasting sign of self giving and other receiving.