Selected Sunday Scriptures- #45

Today’s first passage is from the Gospel of Matthew:

And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a marriage feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the marriage feast; but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, Behold, I have made ready my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves are killed, and everything is ready; come to the marriage feast.’ But they made light of it and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the thoroughfares, and invite to the marriage feast as many as you find.’ 10 And those servants went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment; 12 and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

(Matthew 22:1-14)

For those of my readers who are Catholic and who attended a Novus Ordo Mass this weekend, you will recognize this Gospel passage. I chose it because the homily that I heard earlier today was, shall we say, lacking. I don’t think it will surprise many of my readers to hear that the priest somehow failed to mention the last few verses about the man without the wedding garment. It was disappointing to me, but not surprising. After all, it adds a somber reminder to what is otherwise a nice component of the “Happy, Cheerful-Time Gospel” that so many like to preach today. I should mention that the fate of the original guests got only cursory mention, not that that is a shock or anything.

The priest talked about how we should invite everyone and how the church should get out on the street. How we shouldn’t worry about getting out shoes muddy in the world. But the truth is that accepting the summons is only the beginning of the process, not the end. It isn’t enough that we show up at the feast, we also need to prepare for it. We need to wear our wedding garments- that is, to cleanse ourselves and purify ourselves. It is incumbent upon us to repent of our sins and confess them to the Lord. To acknowledge our faults, and to seek out His pardon and mercy. Otherwise, we shall end up as Ananias and Sapphira:

But a man named Anani′as with his wife Sapphi′ra sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back some of the proceeds, and brought only a part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Anani′as, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? How is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” When Anani′as heard these words, he fell down and died. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.

After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Hark, the feet of those that have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and died. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 And great fear came upon the whole church, and upon all who heard of these things.

(Acts 5:1-11)

Both Ananias and Sapphira showed up for the banquet. But their clothes were soiled, and thus not appropriate for a feast. So they were bound up and cast out into the darkness. And I think it is safe to assume that on the Last Day they will be among those who find themselves in the Pit, where there will be wailing and the gnashing their teeth.

The priest today did everyone a disservice by not addressing the final part of that Gospel passage. There are none who have fallen so far that God is not willing to forgive them and call them home, so long as they repent. Yet the first part of that message is worse than useless without the second. Repentance is at the core of our faith. To overlook it, to fail to mention it, is inexcusable. With it, anyone can be saved. Without it, none of us.

David was considered a man after God’s own heart. Yet he was a sinner, like all of us. Furthermore, his sins were grave- adultery and murder. But despite this, he was forgiven by the Lord… because he had a repentant heart. Let us then seek to follow David, and repent and confess our sins to God, lest we share the fate of Aninias and Sapphira.

  Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy steadfast love;
    according to thy abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is ever before me.
Against thee, thee only, have I sinned,
    and done that which is evil in thy sight,
so that thou art justified in thy sentence
    and blameless in thy judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
    and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward being;
    therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
    wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Fill me with joy and gladness;
    let the bones which thou hast broken rejoice.
Hide thy face from my sins,
    and blot out all my iniquities.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and put a new and right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from thy presence,
    and take not thy holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of thy salvation,
    and uphold me with a willing spirit.

13 Then I will teach transgressors thy ways,
    and sinners will return to thee.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
    thou God of my salvation,
    and my tongue will sing aloud of thy deliverance.

15 O Lord, open thou my lips,
    and my mouth shall show forth thy praise.
16 For thou hast no delight in sacrifice;
    were I to give a burnt offering, thou wouldst not be pleased.
17 The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

(Psalm 51:1-17)

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18 Comments

Filed under Selected Sunday Scriptures

18 responses to “Selected Sunday Scriptures- #45

  1. A Visitor

    I was actually presently surprised that we had the whole passage in our Gospel reading, including what happened at the end. Personally I was expecting that to be left out, as it seems they prefer the briefer form. If I ever get married, the wife and I are going to have our Gospel reading starting at Ephesians 5:21.

  2. mdavid

    This was a really good post. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt the same way. It’s the sign of our times. Our special penance.

  3. @ Visitor

    Don’t you mean Ephesians 5:22?

  4. Mrs. C

    I guess I was one of the lucky ones to be at a Novus Ordo Mass this weekend and to have the focus of the homily on the improperly attired guest. Father’s point was that there was more to it than just accepting the invitation. We have to live our lives transformed by Christ in order to be clothed in Him when we arrive at the wedding feast of the Lamb.

    DG-Why would Eph 5:21 not be included in the Gospel reading of husband and wife?
    http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=5531

  5. Mrs. C:

    Because Eph 5:21 states: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

    This is not an admonition for husbands and wives. This is for the church body as a whole. The verse makes no sense when read with the ones which follow it, which clearly and unmistakably command a wife to submit to her husband, and a husband to love his wife. Note: The husband is NOT to submit to his wife. He is to love her.

    Christ loved (and loves) the church. But He at no time submitted (or submits) to her. Never. Not once.

    Eph. 5:21 is completely inappropriate as an instruction or exhortation for married couples.

  6. Mrs. C

    @Deti-Before I reply to your comment, I would like to ask you to define what it means in a practical way for the church body as a whole to “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” I want to be sure we are on the same page with it’s meaning before we start talking past each other. What does this passage look like in daily life and interactions of Christians with each other?

  7. Mrs. C:

    Reply if you wish, or not, doesn’t matter to me.

    You want to know what “mutual submission” looks like in daily life. That’s irrelevant, when we’re talking about how husbands and wife relate to each other.

    The relevant question really is why it’s so important to you that a husband and wife should “submit to one another”. Why is it so important that your husband submit to you? And, are you willing to submit to him, as your God commands you?

  8. @ Mrs. C.

    DG-Why would Eph 5:21 not be included in the Gospel reading of husband and wife?

    Good question. I will answer that in a post tomorrow, along with this one:

    I would like to ask you to define what it means in a practical way for the church body as a whole to “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

  9. Mrs. C

    @ deti “You want to know what “mutual submission” looks like in daily life. That’s irrelevant, when we’re talking about how husbands and wife relate to each other.”

    See, I don’t see it as irrelevant to the husband and wife relationship. This is why I was curious as to why DG would want to leave that verse out when a husband and wife read the Gospel together. What it means for Christians to submit to one another out of reverence to Christ is “one member should submit to another, to the superior judgment of another, and to the weakness of another, and to the admonitions of others, and so as to perform all offices of love: and the manner in which this duty is to be performed, is in the fear of God;” (Gill’s Commentary)

    The relationship among Christians as the body of Christ is the primary relationship. This is the relationship that will exist into eternity. Marriage is temporary and secondary to this relationship. Husbands and wives don’t cease to be members of the church body as a whole when they get married. Neither does their relationship as brothers and sisters in Christ and heirs to the kingdom of God. Therefore, Eph 5: 21 is valid in marriage because Christians submit to one another out of reverence to Christ.

    A wife’s submission to her husband does not does not mean that her husband should never submit to her with a Christian submission of one to the other. Let’s look at how this would play out in marriage. A husband may decide to defer to his wife’s particular knowledge about a subject when making a decision. In this way, he exercises Christian submission by submitting himself to the superior judgment of his wife in certain matters. This does not take away his authority. It simply means he has enough Christian humility to admit that in certain situations his wife’s knowledge may be more extensive than his own. A husband may submit to the weakness of his wife by seeing her exhausted and tired from taking care of a newborn by postponing his request for sex. A husband may submit to his wife when she points out to him sin in his own life that he needs to get rid of.

    None of the above negates the husband’s authority in the marriage.

    @deti “Christ loved (and loves) the church. But He at no time submitted (or submits) to her. Never. Not once. ”

    While Christ does not submit to the Church, it remains a fact that although a husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the Church, he is not Christ, Himself. He is still a man. He is still a Christian brother to her and is still called to demonstrate Christian submission to her as all Christians are to submit to one another. A wife does not submit to her husband as if he is Christ Himself and without the qualifier that submission is not required when he is asking her to sin. The qualifier is there because her husband is in fact, also a person, like herself and prone to sin. To say that a husband never submits to his wife (in the context of Christian submission of one to another), is to say that he is on an equal level with Christ. He is not.

    @ det “The relevant question really is why it’s so important to you that a husband and wife should “submit to one another”. Why is it so important that your husband submit to you? And, are you willing to submit to him, as your God commands you?”

    It’s important that a husband and wife “submit to one another” in the context that as Christians we are to “submit to one another out of reverence to Christ.”

    It’s not important that my husband submit to me but it is important that as a Christian brother he “submit to one another out of reverence to Christ.” A husband does this by loving as Christ loved the Church with a sacrificial love that seeks the good of others before his own selfish desires. He submits his desires to the good of the others for the sake of Christ. In marriage, he puts the good of his wife and family before himself. Christian submission of one to another comes down to the virtue of humility. Christ humbled Himself, took on human flesh, was obedient to his earthly parents, was obedient to the Jewish Law, was obedient to the earthly authority of Pilate who ordered him put to death, all for the love He had for us and out of the desire to save us. We are all called to this same humility. Those who lead, lead by serving out of love for Christ and each other. Those who follow, submit cheerfully, quickly and completely out of love for Christ and each other. Anytime you put the good of another before your own selfish desires, you are submitting to them out of reverence to Christ. This doesn’t mean you are taking orders from them. It simply means you are putting Christ first in the relationship, not only above your desires but sometimes it may mean above the other’s desires as well.

    I do willingly submit to my husband as God commanded. .

  10. A Visitor

    Donal,

    I meant Ephesians 5:21. However, if you think it should start at 5:22, I’d be interested on your thoughts. Looking forward to that post!

  11. mdavid

    C, In marriage, he puts the good of his wife and family before himself. Christian submission of one to another comes down to the virtue of humility.

    This is true.

    I’m always sort of bemused by everyone fighting over submission. Hell, the President of the US, the most powerful man in the world, is a slave to public opinion for goodness sakes. The small business man who “doesn’t have a boss” slaves night and day for his customers. Go headship!

    Unfortunately, I’m the head of my household. It’s a thankless job, I promise, and my wife is better than most. The pay sucks, too. Anytime wife wants to swap, I’m for it. But she isn’t that stupid. She knows the benefits of submission to a spouse, while the poor spouse submits to everyone else in the world.

  12. Mrs. C

    I also wanted to add that the “mutual submission” in marriage as defined in the manosphere today is speaking of egalitarian marriage. Meaning both partners have equal decision making authority in the family and no one has the submissive role.

    When we see the verse that Christians are to “submit to one another out of reverence to Christ”, the above definition of mutual submission in egalitarian marriage was unknown. All the admonitions of how Christians are to relate to each other are applicable and inform the duties specific to all the vocations-whether that be marriage, religious life, or the unmarried. We are first and foremost Christian, a follower of Christ. Our vocation doesn’t change that.

    To say that the instruction to Christians to “submit to one another out of reverence to Christ” doesn’t apply to marriage is to superimpose the modern understanding of egalitarian marriage on Scripture. In doing that, we have no choice but to say that verse doesn’t apply to husband and wife. It’s the only way to make it fit with the instruction to the husband and wife (husband as head and wife as body).

    The submission of one Christian to another is not an authority based submission. It is a decision to defer to another Christian based on the call to serve one another. It is a decision, like I said above, that is rooted in humility and finds its expression in love. It is to take into account the the talents and gifts of another which may be greater than our own in an area. It is to defer to another due to their weakness. It is to put another’s good ahead of our own desires. All this is done out of reverence to Christ.

    There is nothing in the instruction of “submit to one another out of reverence to Christ” that diminishes the husband’s authority in marriage. In fact, it informs his authority as one based on service to his family.

    In the Catholic Culture article “Wives be Subject to your Husbands”, it is explained that while there is a subjection of each spouse to the other, the way that is applied in marriage doesn’t void the husband’s leadership or the wife’s submission.

    “The opening line of the key New Testament passage about the relationship God intends to exist between husbands and wives is this: Husbands and wives should “be subject to one another.” The wife “subjects” herself to her husband by accepting his role as head. That is, she cooperates with him in filling that role of service to her and the children. The husband, on the other hand, “subjects” himself to his wife by accepting — and doing his best to fulfill — her needs for love and care, provision and order, day after day, so long as they both shall live. God intends that there should be mutual subjection of husbands and wives.”

    This is why I asked the question to DG above about why you would leave out Eph 5:21 from couples seeking to read the Gospel together to inform their marriage. Eph 5:21 does have it’s place in Christian marriage and is not to be confused with the modern day understanding of egalitarian marriage.

  13. “I also wanted to add that the “mutual submission” in marriage as defined in the manosphere today is speaking of egalitarian marriage. Meaning both partners have equal decision making authority in the family and no one has the submissive role.”

    The definition of “mutual submission” as prescribing egalitarian marriage did not originate in the manosphere. It sprang up as part of a false theology propagated all over North American Christianity (including Roman Catholicism). The manosphere merely identified it and combats it; and that’s why I, at least, believe Eph. 5:21 should be avoided as advice for married couples. The wife can always, always use it as a cudgel, a weapon against her husband, to demand absolution and excusal from the requirement of her submission, and to demand that the husband submit to her. It’s always relied on to show that the “wife submit” doesn’t really mean what the text clearly says it means.

  14. I’d also point out that that false theology surrounding “mutual submission” arose for the specific purpose of relieving Christian wives of their duties to submit to their husbands.

    It also serves to provide a myriad of exceptions and “what ifs” and “only ifs” so that wives can submit, “but not really”. It’s intended to put preconditions on a wife’s submission.

    “I’ll submit IF AND ONLY IF he leads properly.”

    “I’ll submit IF AND ONLY IF his relationship with God is right.”

    “I’ll submit IF AND ONLY IF he leads me where I think we should be going.”

    “I’ll submit IF AND ONLY IF I’m attracted to him.”

    “I’ll submit IF AND ONLY IF he goes to church enough.”

    Guess who gets to decide if the husband’s doing all the things he should be doing? Yeah, that’s right. The wife does.

  15. mdavid

    deti, The definition of “mutual submission” as prescribing egalitarian marriage did not originate in the manosphere. It sprang up as part of a false theology propagated all over North American Christianity (including Roman Catholicism).

    You need to be more precise here. Are you saying that Roman Catholic doctrine doctrine has changed in North America (I guess it’s American Catholicism)? Or are you saying that certain North American Catholics are violating their own doctrine?

    Note that unlike other Christian religions, Roman Catholics write down their doctrine, follow Tradition so it’s never reversed (RC still believe in indulgences for example), and include every culture in the world. One area like North America cannot just “change” things. The Reformation tried that, and now there are more Catholics than Protestants in Reformed Europe.

  16. “Or are you saying that certain North American Catholics are violating their own doctrine?”

    This.

    I’m also saying that a lot of North American Catholics don’t even KNOW RC doctrine. Or scripture. Or tradition. I’m also saying that if they know it, they don’t adhere to it. Same with Protestants, who are even worse.

    I don’t know if RC doctrine has changed on this. But I do know that our RC friends are changing, or seriously considering changing, their own doctrine on divorcees receiving the Eucharist, and on gay marriage.

  17. Mrs. C

    @deti “The definition of “mutual submission” as prescribing egalitarian marriage did not originate in the manosphere. ”

    Never said it did. I just pointed out how the manosphere defines it as egalitarian marriage.

    @ deti “The manosphere merely identified it and combats it; and that’s why I, at least, believe Eph. 5:21 should be avoided as advice for married couples. The wife can always, always use it as a cudgel, a weapon against her husband, to demand absolution and excusal from the requirement of her submission, and to demand that the husband submit to her. It’s always relied on to show that the “wife submit” doesn’t really mean what the text clearly says it means.”

    You’re right in that there are always going to be Christians who twist scripture to mean what they want it to mean. Whether that is feminists using “submit to one another out of reverence to Christ” to mean that the wife shares headship or those who fear it threatens headship by saying it doesn’t apply to marriage. However, for those of us who want to follow Christ (in his Word and for us Catholics in Tradition), we are not to avoid certain scriptures just because someone might use them wrongly. We are to follow them in their intended meaning. To avoid this verse in Christian marriage is an act of fear. To live it as it’s intended which is a call for Christians to serve one another-no matter their particular vocation but also in a particular way in their vocation-is a Christian duty. This verse finds it’s place in marriage in how headship and submission are carried out. The headship of the husband under this verse means his headship is one of service towards the good of marriage and family rather than one of domination that serves his personal desires. The submission of the wife under this verse means to acknowledge his role at the head and to loving cooperate with his leadership. The verse enhances the meaning of headship and submission in marriage. It doesn’t cancel the meaning nor does it not apply in marriage.

  18. Pingback: Where Does Ephesians 5:21 Belong? | Donal Graeme

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