October 30, 2018
by Colleen Chiacchere
Creighton University Magis Catholic Teaching Corps
click here for photo and information about the writer

Tuesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 480

Ephesians 5:21-33
Psalms 128:1-2, 3, 4-5
Luke 13:18-21

Praying Ordinary Time

At first glance, our first reading, today, from Ephesians, may seem complicated and confusing.  It did for me, for a long time, as I resisted hearing the jarring words: Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.  The passage goes on to say that ”wives should be subordinate to their husbands...”

Hearing the words in the context where I live… in a 21st Century North American independent, individualistic society, made me uncomfortable.  And, honestly, it seems like a recipe for a disastrous relationship.  Shouldn’t husbands and wives be seen as equals in their vows and commitment to each other and to the sacrament of marriage?  Did Paul really need to use the word “subordinate’?  Among my friends, relatives and acquaintances, I definitely don’t see models of healthy, life-giving Christian marriages where one of the partners is inferior or in a position of power.

But, with some deeper reflection and understanding, there is much more to this passage that is inviting, attractive and relevant to those of us who are called to love, and certainly to those of us who are married.  Paul is inviting husbands and wives to be self-giving and self-emptying, using Christ’s example of servant leadership, as our model. A servant leader leads by counter-cultural example, offering effort and resource for the well-being of those whom they lead.  Service is the key in this perspective as one is always concerned first and foremost about the empowerment and encouragement of the one with whom he/she is in relationship. 

In our Gospel reading today, from Luke, Jesus shares with us what the Kingdom of God is like.  It is like a mustard seed that becomes a large bush; it is like yeast that leavens the dough.  By self-emptying, we collaborate with God to grow something so astonishing and beyond our capacity.  When we truly put God as our focus and eliminate our human desire to be in a position of unhealthy power, in the modern meaning of subordinate, we make room for God to come in an transform an unlikely situation into an opportunity for grace to shine.

I invite us to reflect on a few questions:

  • How do I model Christ’s self-emptying love in my day-to-day interactions this week?
  • How do love those in my life – perhaps a partner or even a friend, relative or colleague – in a servant leadership sense, always acting on their behalf in a self-emptying.  ?
  • Where am I called to be leaven, mixed with other ingredients and being the activator that helps everyone rise to one’s true potential? 
  • Who are the mustard seeds in my life…unassuming, unlikely people or situations, where I can help imagine and nurture amazing growth?

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