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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
The child you shall bear will be holy.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Ephesians 5,21-33

Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives should be subject to their husbands as to the Lord, since, as Christ is head of the Church and saves the whole body, so is a husband the head of his wife; and as the Church is subject to Christ, so should wives be to their husbands, in everything. Husbands should love their wives, just as Christ loved the Church and sacrificed himself for her to make her holy by washing her in cleansing water with a form of words, so that when he took the Church to himself she would be glorious, with no speck or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and faultless. In the same way, husbands must love their wives as they love their own bodies; for a man to love his wife is for him to love himself. A man never hates his own body, but he feeds it and looks after it; and that is the way Christ treats the Church, because we are parts of his Body. This is why a man leaves his father and mother and becomes attached to his wife, and the two become one flesh. This mystery has great significance, but I am applying it to Christ and the Church. To sum up: you also, each one of you, must love his wife as he loves himself; and let every wife respect her husband.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Look down, O Lord, on your servants.
Be it unto us according to your word.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The apostle does not fail to read the relationships, according to the Gospel, that should exist within the family. He knows well that the members of a Christian family must behave in a new way with each other, that is, as people "subject" first of all to Christ. From this submission gush new relationships even within marriage. All are called to submit to each other "out of reverence for Christ." Before even respecting social roles, husband and wife both belong to Christ. This exhortation cuts at the root of every temptation of authoritarianism, or of feeling superior. Paul respects family structures in force at the time, but he considers wives and husbands as "brothers and sisters in Christ." Their spousal relationship must then be animated by the same brotherhood that exists in the Church. The married woman is subject to her husband, Paul writes. The submission, at that time, was nothing demeaning and did not prevent women from being esteemed and also of having social relevance. Paul, however, adds, that she should be subject to her husband "as to the Lord", i.e. to behave as Christians do among themselves, with love. The similarity that Paul makes between Christ-Church and husband-wife is more an analogy than a parallel (the husband is not the saviour of his wife as Christ is of the Church). The apostle does not touch the hierarchy then in force but he radically changes the motivation. The husband is the "head" as he imitates Christ’s love for the Church: he must serve his wife up to the giving of his life for her. The analogy continues: submission, as requested of his wife does not mean obeying the commands of a master, but opening to love and welcoming it. As a result the final expression, "in everything," which seems to emphasize the subordination of women, receives its true light: Paul also calls the wife to a total gift of self to her husband. Paul asks the couple to have a reciprocal love like that of Christ-Church: a love that is reaches the point of the gift of life. We are far from a love that closes up inside the two, a sort of romantic love. On the contrary, the love that the spouses are called to live is to go beyond themselves. Their vocation is to be open together to life and to communicating love to the ends of the earth. The "great mystery" of the love of Christ and of the Church illuminates spousal love and gives it the strength to go further and further. All family and ethnic dimensions are overcome. That is why it is time that "a man will leave his father and mother." The love that unites the couple is generative and encourages them to expand their love to the ends of the earth.

Memory of the Mother of the Lord