Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. 


When we think about marriage, we think about love. But what is love? Is it the excitement that a couple feels as they prepare for their wedding day? Is it the attraction that first brought them together? Is it the sense of solidarity they develop as they build a life together? Those things are all beautiful elements of love, but the picture is far more intricate. That’s where today’s first reading(Ephesians 5:21-33) comes in.

When some people hear these verses from Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, they immediately jump to the more controversial parts about how wives should submit to their husbands. But to understand love, let’s explore the first verse: “Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21). This one sentence gives context to everything that follows.

Be subordinate: The word “subordinate” often calls to mind rigid hierarchy—implying that one person is less than another. But that’s not Paul’s point at all. Remember what he wrote to the Philippians: “Humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but [also] everyone for those of others” (2:3-4). We know how natural it is to look out for ourselves. Love means choosing humility, to place the needs and concerns of someone else above our own.

To one another: Submission is something each person does for the other; it’s not just for wives or just for husbands. Both need to be eager to serve and care for each other before looking to themselves. Even those who never marry are called to relate this way: to be willing to empty themselves on behalf of one another. To be ready to love.

Out of reverence for Christ: Why do we do this? Because we are imitating the sacrificial love of Jesus. He poured himself out for us, his beloved. He endured hardship, suffering, and even death because he considered our needs before his own. He put us ahead of his own desires, and in reverence for his sacrifice, we try to do the same.

That’s what love is all about. And it’s for everyone!

“Jesus, help me to love as you love!”

Ephesians 5:21-33
Psalm 128:1-5
Luke 13:18-21


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