Today’s second reading from Mass was Ephesians 5:21-32, which happened to be our second reading at our wedding Mass last year. Zenit reproduces a short reflection on the reading by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher to the papal household.
Reading Paul’s words with modern eyes, one immediately sees a difficulty. Paul recommends to husband that they “love” their wives (and this is good), but he also recommends to women that they be submissive to their husbands, and this—in a society strongly (and justly) conscious of the equality of the sexes—seems unacceptable.
In fact, it’s true. On this point St. Paul is conditioned in part by the mentality of his age. However, the solution is not in eliminating from relations between husbands and wives the word “submission,” but, perhaps, in making it mutual, as love must also be mutual.
In other words, not only must husbands love their wives, but wives must also love their husbands. Not only must wives be subject to their husbands, but also husbands to their wives, in mutual love and mutual submission.
I’m afraid Fr. Cantalamessa falls into the same trap that so many homilists do, making apologies for St. Paul (and the Holy Spirit evidently). In this new age of equal rights for men and women, we are embarrassed by those seemingly misogynist bits and pieces of Scripture and Tradition. But is St. Paul conditioned by his age and proposing something that we must now disregard or re-interpret for a new age? No!
What St. Paul is saying: bridal imagery of Christ and His Church
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