Our modern culture chokes on the opening of today's first reading, "Wives should be submissive to their husbands" (Eph 5:22). Yet that is not the most radical sentence of this passage. St. Paul's call for husbands to love their wives, in the same way as Jesus loves the Church, is an extraordinarily radical challenge, both for the culture of Paul's time, and for every age since.
In Paul's time, wives were considered the property of the husband and had no rights at all. Yet Paul commanded husbands to lay down their lives for their wives, to care for them as they cared for their own body (Eph 5:28-29). This is a radical demand. How does Jesus love the Church? He says to the Church: "This is My body, to be given up for you" (see 1 Cor 11:24). To love his wife in this way means that the husband says to his wife: "This is my body, to be given up for you."
Jesus asks in today's Gospel passage: "What is the kingdom of God like?" (see Lk 13:18) The kingdom of God is like the radical love of a husband who loves his wife as Jesus loves the Church. He literally lays down his life for her — his interests, schedule, hopes, dreams — for her welfare. He walks to the cross for her. He honors, nourishes, and provides for her. He uplifts her, as Jesus does for His Church. He spiritually leads her, teaches her, and loves her. He leads and teaches the children they bring into the world.
Yes, the world will notice a husband who loves his wife like this. The people in the world, seeing this married love, will realize that Jesus loves them (Eph 5:32).
|Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant the Nihil Obstat ("Permission to Publish") for One Bread, One Body covering the period from October 1, 2018 through November 30, 2018.
†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, May 3, 2018.