Sunday, August 23, 2009

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ephesians 5: 21-32; John 6: 60-69
Our pastors had a choice today. They could say "wives should be subordinate to their husbands", or not. Who among them were bold enough to poke this hornet's nest? But the real tragedy is that whether or not those words were spoken, the words that come before them were most likely lost: "Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ." How much angst was spent in either defending or explaining away the former statement, and how little in truly exploring the latter one? In a delightful bit of irony, the gospel begins with "Many of Jesus' disciples who were listening said, 'This saying is hard; who can accept it?'" Who indeed? But which saying is truly hard? We should easily be able to strip the cultural anachronisms from Paul's marital advice and see the divine wisdom within. After all, this advice is premised on a more basic statement: "Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ." Clearly this saying is hard to accept, for we see all around us the evidence of our failure to heed its truth: homelessness, starvation, disease; all brought on because we believe in a world where it is acceptable for some to have any toy they can dream of, while others lack even the most basic necessities. If we have truly accepted Jesus as the Bread of Life, such a reality should be intolerable. So today, let us put aside the petty politics of modern America, gender conflicts or otherwise, and strive to be people who live for others, all of them.