WE ARE GOD’S OWN SEEDS PLANTED TO GROW
Each sacrament is a sharing in the paschal mystery of Christ, a dying and rising in the new life of Christ. So is marriage. Genuine love in marriage is a reflection of Christ’s love – with each partner living the life of Christ, dying to selfishness, rising to deeper, creative and serving love. Ephesians says that the marriage covenant reflects the love of God for his people and at the same time the love of Christ for his Church. Then, under the influence of the socio-cultural thinking and structures of his time, he continues to draw a parallel between Christ as head of his Church and the husband as the head of his wife and the family, a parallel which is hard to accept in contemporary thought.
The kingdom of God must grow among us, like a seed growing into a tree, like flour transformed into bread by the yeast. But growth means change and going ahead, marching forward, and this cannot happen without change and saying goodbye to the past and even to the present, to walk forward in hope toward the future. This brings the pain of separation, of giving up something familiar, but also the joy of knowing that we are on the way with the Lord.
source and model of all love,
you cause the paths of life
of men and women to cross
and to discover one another
as partners in life.
May their love be genuine and creative
and strong enough to survive
the differences and trials
that are part of life.
Let it be patient, understanding,
forgiving and lasting,
as is the love that you have shown us
in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!
1 Reading: Ephesians 5:21-33
Brothers and sisters: Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the Church, he himself the saviour of the Body. As the Church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the Church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the Church in splendour, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. So also husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the Church, because we are members of his Body. For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the Church. In any case, each one of you should love his wife as himself, and the wife should respect her husband.
Responsorial Psalm PS 128:1-2, 3, 4-5
R. (1a) Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
Blessed are you who fear the LORD,
who walk in his ways!
For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;
blessed shall you be, and favoured. R.
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
in the recesses of your home;
Your children like olive plants
around your table. R.
Behold, thus is the man blessed
who fears the LORD.
The LORD bless you from Zion:
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life. R.
Alleluia Matthew 11:25
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth;
You have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel: Luke 13:18-21
Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like? To what can I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that a man took and planted in the garden. When it was fully grown, it became a large bush and ‘the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches.'” Again he said, “To what shall I compare the Kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch of dough was leavened.”
Today’s passage from Ephesians is often seen as disregarding the equal dignity of the woman in marriage. But that fails to take account of the passage as a whole. There is indeed a subordination present, but it is mutual, equally binding on both parties. Humility and lowliness are part of the Christian ethic as a whole and are therefore applicable to both man and woman in marriage. If the wife is told to be submissive to the husband as the church is to Christ, by the same token the husband is told to love the wife as does Christ the church. And on Christ’s part, that love carried him even to death for the sake of his beloved. In Paul’s teaching there is no sparing the husband. Mutual love is always humble on both sides.
From small beginnings come great things. The kingdom of God in full growth will indeed be impressive. In our present state, we await the full expression of God’s reign. Our interim efforts on behalf of the church should look toward unity and docility. There is no issue faced by our sister churches today that is not in some way present in our Catholic ranks as well. Prayer and dialogue are necessary as we serenely ask for God’s guidance.
Many marriages fail because of a lack of mutual submission. Husband and wife must listen to each other and together seek solutions to common problems. There is an inestimable witness given by the marriage that lasts for many years. It shows a willingness to find common solutions and to be patient in the face of human weakness. This is the way in which Christ deals with his church.
– For the Church, the bride of Christ, that she may always be faithful to the message of the gospel and the liberating love of Christ, we pray:
– For homes built on unselfish love, that through them we may understand better all the depth of God’s love, we pray:
– For the young preparing for marriage, that they may learn from life that the depth and beauty of love rest on generosity and sharing, we pray;
Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God,
bread tastes good
and wine rejoices
when they are shared
as signs of friendship and love.
Break for us the bread of life
and pour for us the wine of happiness
of Jesus, your Son,
that your people may bear together
the burdens of life
and share its joys
by the strength of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!
Prayer after Communion
Our God and Father,
you have renewed in this Eucharist
your covenant of love with your people.
In the name of this covenant we ask of you:
let all love among us
and the union of marriage
between husbands and wives
reflect a bit the tender warmth,
the respect and the inventive ways
of your love for us.
Keep loving us in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!
Marriage is a great mystery of love. Love is not mere sentiment, not just feeling, but the giving of oneself. It is patterned after the love of Christ, who gave himself and did not measure his love. He simply gave himself to us. May our married couples also give themselves to one another and to their children, with the blessing of almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!