2021-08-2221st Sunday in Ordinary TimeRev. Msgr. Michael J. Motta, D.Min.

I am sure that more than one husband gave his wife a nudge or a glance during our second reading when "wives should be subordinate to their husbands" was read. Perhaps the women here should quote the Gospel for today: "This saying is hard, who can accept it."

All kidding aside, I am going to talk about the passage from Ephesians because I think that it is often misused. I am going to try to interpret it in light of our modern world.

Anyone who uses the Bible to put women down is misusing the Bible. Sometimes, passages such as this one are used to justify all kinds of things including spousal abuse. Again it is not what the author intended.

The fact is that once we hear a sentence like "wives should be subordinate" or the "husband is head of his wife" people stop listening to the rest of the reading.

The letter to the Ephesians is attributed to St. Paul. Some scholars think that one of his disciples wrote it instead. Actually, women were a very important part of St. Paul`s Church communities. But Paul was also a product of the times and circumstances in which he lived. To judge Paul or his companions in light of contemporary standards would be unfair.

The world of St. Paul, two thousand years ago, was a world in which slavery existed. It was a world in which both women and children were treated as possessions. Forget about equal rights or equal opportunities for education or employment. Those rights did not exist.

That fact that Paul talks about husbands loving their wives as they love their own bodies, is a radical new idea. "He who loves his wife, loves himself," he says.

St. Paul was also trying to change a pagan world with the message of Jesus Christ. Actually this passage is not about marriage but rather it is about our relationship as a Church to Jesus Christ.

If a husband thinks more about loving and caring for his wife than he does about satisfying his own desires, then he is going to be more like Jesus Christ. And the same goes for a wife. The more that she thinks about loving her husband than she does about her own needs, the more she is like God.

In summary, the passage is not about male versus female. It is about how males and females should complement one another.

Both men and women have different strengths and weaknesses but both women and men are created in the name and likeness of God.

So love one another as Jesus Christ loves you.

Back to Homilies page