Fr. Ruben’s Homily for Sunday, August 26, 2018

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 122

Reading 1: Jos. 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b

Responsorial Psalm: Ps. 34:2-3, 16-17, 18-19, 20-21

Reading 2: Eph. 5:21-32 or 5:2a, 25-32

Alleluia: Jn. 6:63c, 68c

Gospel: Jn. 6:60-69

 

This time I would like to focus on the second reading of the day, from the Letter to the Ephesians, because it contains a topic of great interest to the family. Reading Saint Paul’s words with modern eyes, a difficulty immediately emerges. Paul recommends the husband “love” his wife (and this is fine), but also recommends the woman to be “submissive” to the husband, and this, in a society strongly (and fairly) aware of gender equality, seems unacceptable.

But what is not submission? According to John Piper submission is not:

  1. Agreeing on everything: Meaning, ones believe in abortion the other does not. Submission does not mean to agree in every issue.
  2. Leaving your brain at the altar: I do the thinking in the family, your opinion does not count, wherever I say, that should be done. Then we need to change the “I” for the “we” or “let’s”
  3. You do not try to influence your husband: nobody is determining to behave in a certain way, to be always the same. Change happens all the time in the life of a person that is why Christ became man, to change things back to the Father. If your spouse is living in continuous sin, you want to influence that and help to make a change.
  4. Putting the will of the husband before the will of Christ: nobody in life should live or act out of fear, meaning if you believe in Christ and are faithful to him, you should not be afraid to live your faith, she will submit to the husband, but he is not her Lord. Then if the spouse proposes something immoral, you can say, no I do not follow you on this; Christ is my Lord and my teacher, my authority, I follow his will and not yours.
  5. Getting all of her spiritual strength through her husband: only in God can the couples find strength to continue with marriage. Spouses need to have time alone in prayer as well as time as a family. Only Christ can offer spiritual strength, only Christ can offer that peace that spouses need when they face a difficult situation in the family.

 

On this point of submission, Saint Paul is conditioned in part by the mentality of his time. However, the solution is not to suppress the word “submission” from the relations between husband and wife, but, if anything, to make it reciprocal, love must also be reciprocal. In other words, not only the husband should love the woman, but also the woman the husband; not only the wife should be subject to the husband, but also the husband should be subject to his wife, reciprocal love and reciprocal submission.

To submit ourselves means, in this case, to take into account the will of the spouse, his (her) opinion and his (her) sensitivity; dialogue, not to decide alone on matters that involve family; sometimes know how to renounce one’s point of view. In short, remember that you have become “spouses” that is, literally, people who are under “The same yoke” freely accepted.

The Apostle Paul gives Christian spouses as a model of the relationship of love that exists between Christ and the Church, but he immediately explains what this love consisted of: “Christ loved the Church and gave himself for it”. True love is manifested in the word “Surrender” to the other.

There are two ways of manifesting one’s love to one’s loved one. The first is to give her gifts, to fill her with gifts; the second, much more demanding, you were willing to suffer for it. God loved us in the first way when he created us and filled us with goods: heaven, earth, flowers, our own body, everything is his gift … But later, in the fullness of time, in Christ, he came to us and he suffered for us, until he died on the cross.

It also happens that way in human love. At the beginning, of boyfriends, love expresses itself by making gifts. But the time comes for everyone when it is no longer enough to make gifts; you have to be able to suffer with and for the beloved person. Love it despite the limitations that are discovered, of the moments of poverty, of the diseases themselves. This is true love that looks like Christ’s.