Tuesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
(Ephesians 5:21-33; Luke 13:18-21)
There is a story about a man who came home late one night. He found the front door locked and had to knock. “Who’s there?” came the voice of his wife inside. “I am,” he said back, but nothing happened. He knocked again. “Who’s there?” the woman inside repeated. “I am,” the man replied, but again there was no movement. The man then had an inspiration. He knocked a third time, and when he heard the query, “Who’s there?” he responded, “You are,” and the door was opened. Perhaps it was today’s first reading that inspired the man to answer so effectively.
The reading reiterates the teaching of Jesus in the gospel who himself takes the reference from the Book of Genesis. Ephesians’ intent, however, is not just to relate the unity of matrimony but to use the bridal couple as a symbol of Christ and the Church. As united as man is to his wife in sexual intimacy, it teaches, so the Church is one with Christ.
As insightful as the passage is, it is often resented by contemporaries because it suggests to them subservience of a woman to a man. The difficulty is more with our imagination than with an implied inequality. It is the man who is to show deference to his wife by loving her more than his own life. This kind of self-sacrifice is the way Christ loved the Church. Would any prudent person object to submitting to another who is ready to die for her true happiness?