Tuesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 480

Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.


I suppose many people, when they think of Saint Paul's letter to the Ephesians, think first of this controversial passage. They might overlook or dismiss everything else about the epistle, which would surely leave them poorer.

But the passage about marriage is controversial and that's good for two reasons: marriage has always been difficult and its basic foundations have been always challenged; and secondly, our religion never shies from controversy. Anyone who thinks Christian religion should always be reassuring can only expect disappointment. Caveat emptor!

The real challenge of this passage is probably not, "Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord." but the more general, "Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ."

True, there are some Christians and Christian churches who espouse the subordination of women, but I suspect they don't read this blog. Others might denounce Paul's teaching as chauvinistic, but they don't read this blog either.

That leaves you and me with the real challenge -- the "double-edged sword" -- that confronts us night and day, that readiness to be subordinate to one another.
Several years ago I was engaged in a protracted discussion about a particular course of action. Eventually someone told me, "Ken, we heard what you said; and we're not going to do that." I was stunned because: first I didn't think they were hearing me; secondly, I hadn't heard what they were saying; and finally, I had to agree with the plan "we" had developed over my objections.

Marriage, like religious life and the priesthood, is the place where you don't get your own will very often; it's where the best you can hope for is compromise.

It's the place where you can hope your needs, desires and dreams are heard by your spouse, honored, and then adjusted to make room for both parties and all the children involved. 

If it's true of life in general that Man proposes and God disposes; it's especially true when we are "subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ."

Eventually I realize that what I thought I wanted wasn't all that important. What I want most of all is communion with those I love and those who love me. I can toss up an idea and watch it get shot down like a skeet at a trap-shoot, and disclaim ownership of it. It's all in good fun because, in the end, we want only what God wants.

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.