Weekday Homily for Matthew 5:27-32

St. Anthony of Padua

2 Cor 4:7-15 :: Ps 116: 10-18 :: Mt 5:27-32 
by Fr. Matthew Habiger OSB

Jesus asserts His teaching authority in the fifth chapter of Matthew, part of the Sermon on the Mountain. “You have head that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Jesus knows that he is raising the bar of sexual values, that He is calling his audience to move beyond where they are. 

Jesus does not simply reflect back, approvingly, what the people are doing. He decisively wants the people to understand the plan of God for human love as men and women, and then have them freely choose to pattern their lives on God’s wonderful plan for us. 

He asks for more than avoiding the act of adultery. He calls for avoiding the very thought of, the very desire of adultery. What are we to make of this? In our society adultery is not considered to be that important. Committed sex is trivialized; recreational sex is openly promoted. Over half of our marriages end in divorce. Cohabitation before marriage is more the rule, rather than the exception. Is Jesus speaking to us, or is his message today to be accommodated to our times? 

St. Paul tells us: “We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to every man’s conscience.” 

Christ wants what is best for us. He came into our world to teach us the truth about God’s plan for human life and human love, about marriage and family, about how the nations are to work together for the common good. He announced that “the Kingdom of God is near; repent and believe in the Gospel.” 

God’s plan for us as bodied persons, male and female, is that each of us must learn how to make the total gift of ourselves to others. We will only find fulfillment when we are able to make this total gift of ourselves. And Christ is our model. The reason He came into our world was to make the total gift of himself to us and His Church, to love us, and to show us how to love in turn. 

Our sexuality, our being designed as either a male-person, or a female-person, is to be assimilated into the gift of ourselves. Pope John Paul II calls this the “nuptial meaning of the body” in his theology of the body. As Christ loved his bride, the Church, so is a man to love his wife. As Christ gave himself totally to his people, the people of God, so is a single person, religious or priest, to make the gift of themselves. In this we shall find our true happiness and our fulfillment as persons. 

Jesus’ teaching about divorce and adultery is as valid today as the day when he first announced them. He takes us back “to the beginning, to God’s original plan. God’s plan for human love and human life are exceedingly rich. They were meant for everyone. Everyone is called to experience the joy and happiness that God has designed for the one who will seek the will of God and hold firm to His plan for us. 

May we discover the theology of the body and its rich insights into God’s plan for us as bodied persons, male and female, made in the image and likeness of God.

Prayer of the Faithful

  • That the alumni reunion may rejuvenate and reanimate our graduates for their role in the new evangelization, let us pray to the Lord …
  • For the primacy of the spiritual life in our daily affairs …
  • That Christians everywhere may promote the primary social value of the family …
  • For the special “genius” of women, which assures sensitivity for the human being in the family, in society, and in the ecclesial community …
  • For a rejection of unsustainable patterns of consumption and production, and the acceptance of universal solidarity, social justice and responsibility …