December 30, 2018

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This Feast of the Holy Family has plenty of options with regard to the first two readings. Here is one option some of us never hear. And even when the priest does select this unpopular reading it does not always mean that we listen.

Wives, be subordinate to your husbands, as is proper in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and avoid any bitterness toward them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, so they may not become discouraged.

Colossians 3,18-21

On the 21st Sunday of the Year we also hear from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, but this nugget is optional:

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 savior of the body. As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything.

Ephesians 5,21-24

The more we avoid the difficult question the more it is misunderstood. The headship of the father is natural, biblical, doctrinal and also easily misunderstood and exaggerated. Every Christian woman has a conscience to be informed with reason and Divine Revelation (guided by the magisterium of the Church) and which she must obey. St. Paul even gives instruction in cases when a woman must separate from her husband (1Cor 7,11). The symmetry of St. Paul’s language about marriage puts to rest the notion that the New Testament fails to honor husbands and wives with equal dignity: “For the wife does not rule over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not rule over his own body, but the wife does” (1Cor 7,4). “Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Eph 5,21). Pope Pius XI even points out that “if the husband neglects his duties, it falls to the wife to take his place in directing the family” (Casti Connubii, 28). He also states so beautifully “for if the man is the head, the woman is the heart, and as he occupies the chief place in ruling, so she may and ought to claim for herself the chief place in love” (Ibid., 27).

This is but one of the many reasons that women in the Roman Empire were converting to Christianity in droves.

Thank God for Christian Families!
Jesus, Mary and Joseph, save us!

Fr. Christopher J. Pollard

p.s. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb 13,8). Amen? Amen! Happy New Year!