Living the Wedding Vows
Today’s readings feel heavy. During this time of international strife and chaos, Jesus presents us with two hard teachings. Many people, particularly women, struggle when St. Paul's letter to the Ephesians comes up. However, even in their difficulty, the readings call us to the message of joy in today’s psalm: Taste and see the goodness of the Lord!
Today’s reading from the Gospel of John starts with the disciples complaining about how hard a particular teaching is to understand. The complaint pairs with the almost visceral reaction a reader may have to the lines about husbands and wives in today’s letter to the Ephesians. Wives are directed to be subordinate to their husbands. The concept of order and one person in a marriage being superior than the other doesn’t sit well with most people. However, this one line does not give a husband free rein to order his wife around. Instead, the very next lines instruct husbands on how they will serve their wives as together they live out their marriage vows.
A husband is commanded to love his wife the same as Christ loved His church. While the thought of loving someone often evokes happy images, it is important to remember that Christ loved us so much that He died on the cross for our sins. St. Paul reminds us in this letter that husbands and wives are called in their marriage vows to become one together, rather than two separate entities. Wives are called to be subordinate to their husband and husbands are called to love their wife above all else. The Latin root of the word subordinate, ordinate, means to arrange or set in order. So the couple will order their lives together, serving each other fully and in the church together.
When the disciples complain in today’s Gospel, Jesus inquires if the teaching shocks them. In the Gospel, Jesus is not referring to the concept of serving your spouse with your whole life. However, His teaching on the Eucharist and eternal life scared some of His followers away. He challenges the remaining disciples if they will leave too. St. Peter answers, “Where will we go?”
This is how a couple must approach their vocation to each other. In a Catholic marriage, two become one. This is a hard teaching to hear, especially with a modern ear. However, it is their duty as a married couple to join together and be united in their actions and faith. Only once this is completed can they fulfill their goal of a holy and sacramental life. We else can we go, but then we shall all taste and see the goodness of the Lord in heaven.