20th Sunday of Ordinary Time
|Image from Pixabay.|
This Sunday, the second reading will be from Ephesians 5:21-32. I’d strongly encourage you to also read the other readings, if you can - it’s Lectionary #122, if you’re reading from a hard copy.
Ephesians 5 is one of the chapters of the bible that has been rendered most uncomfortable for our modern ears by the sexual revolution. The idea that a woman owes her husband obedience, simply because she is female, grates on our ears like nails on a chalk board. And that's all we hear. We shut down. Nothing else gets through after that.
Certainly there is something to God's design for the human family - and it is here in this chapter, but there is more to this section than that.
Let us try to understand this passage a little more completely - I found the very last sentence extremely telling. Paul says, “This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.”
This single sentence is where we get a large portion of our understanding of who the Church expects herself to be in any age - the Bride of Christ our Lord.
So, what, then, should the relationship of the Church be to her Lord? There are probably lots of things we should look for in the relationship of the Church with Christ. This reading addresses two of them.
(1) First, we are to be subordinate to Christ in all things.
This applies to individual members of the Church as much as it applies to the Church as a whole. So, do you subordinate yourself to Christ in all things?
Really? Everything? Are you sure?
I’m willing to bet that I’m not exception to the rule when I admit that there are places in my life that I don’t do a very good job of submitting my will to Christ's. I’m as modern as the next person in that I want to be in control of my own life.
(2) It is God’s design that we be loved by him.
As I’ve mentioned before, love is not for the faint of heart. Christ’s love is powerful, perfect, and desires above all else that we become perfect, just as our Heavenly Father is perfect. Love us to the point of dying to make us holy, so that we might be without spot or wrinkle when we are presented to him.
Do we allow Christ to love us in this way? Do we allow him to work in our lives that we might become more holy, as he desires?
This is his will for us. Do we submit ourselves to it? Are we willing to let God love us - and let him actually love us, according to his design and not ours?
Lord, we confess that though your bride, the Church, may be holy, we here members are not what we should be.
We do not place ourselves under your will for our lives; there are parts that we want to have sole governance over. We do not want to let you help us grow in holiness because we are comfortable the way we are.
We ask that you work in our hearts. Make us, the members of your Church, holier and more obedient, and help us not to grumble against this submissive role, but to be pleased and contented with it, for it is in your love that you have designed it for us.