Are you an adulterer too?
In today’s Gospel,
“a man [who] came to Jesus and asked, ’Master, what good deed must I do to possess eternal life? Jesus replied, ’You must not kill, you must not commit adultery. You must not bring a false witness. Honour your father and mother, and: you must love your neighbour as yourself.” (Mat. 19, 16, 19).
In this Gospel, Jesus commanded the young man not to commit adultery, but what does Jesus mean by “not to commit adultery?”
In Jewish tradition, adultery, like harlotry (prostitution), is not always about sexual relationships. Instead, it is infidelity in all its ramifications. And in most cases, both in the New and the Old Testament, it means unfaithfulness and disloyalty to God.
If we look at today’s readings, we understand that Jesus was not talking about a sexual relationship. To understand this, we need to compare it to the first reading. It is for this reason that when the people of Israel deviated from their call, the author of the book of Judge said that “they prostituted themselves to other gods and bowed down before these.” (Judges 2:17).
Again, in Psalm 105:39, to describe the people’s disobedience, the psalmist says, “they defiled themselves by their deeds and broke their marriage bond with the Lord till his anger blazed against his people.” Here again, disobedience to God is described as infidelity.
And because God loves his people unconditionally, any deviation from this love is termed adultery and infidelity. The entire book of Hosea is a perfect example of this God-love relationship. The wife of Hosea, who is a prostitute, is the image of Israel and Hosea, the faithful prophet, God.