“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church” — Ephesians 5:25

I came across this piece of advice by St. John Chrysostom for husbands, and was so taken with it I thought I’d share it here. It reminds me of the spiritual counsel a Missionary of Charity gave me once when I voiced to her my difficulty dealing with a verbally abusive patient: “The difficult people in your life are the voice of God shouting to you: love like Jesus!” How could her words not call to mind C.S. Lewis’ memorable words? “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains.”

In his homilies on Ephesians 5:21-33, Chrysostom variously applies his prudential wisdom to the details of marriage and family life, bringing to bear the logic of St. Paul’s interpretive re-imagining of marriage in light of Christ’s death and resurrection. For Paul, as for the authors of the whole New Testament, every jot and tittle of the Old Testament, every aspect of human life, every dimension of the whole cosmos — and even hell itself! — must be re-thought in the light of Christ. Nothing has been left unchanged by the significance of what we will celebrate in tomorrow’s great feast, or what we will celebrate in next week’s Feast of Feasts. How awesome it is to be Catholic.

Even though you undergo all [these sacrifices for your wife], you will never have done anything equal to what Christ has done. You are sacrificing yourself for someone to whom you are already joined, but He offered Himself up for one who turned her back on Him and hated Him. In the same way, then, as He honored her by putting at His feet one who turned her back on Him, who hated, rejected, and disdained Him; as He accomplished this not with threats, or violence, or terror, or anything else like that, but through His untiring love; so also you should behave toward your wife. Even if you see her belittling you, or despising and mocking you, still you will be able to return her to yourself through affection, kindness, and your great regard for her. There is no influence more powerful than the bond of love, especially for husband and wife. Husbands should love their wives…”as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” [Eph. 5:25-27]…”For the unbelieving husband is consecrated through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is consecrated through her husband” [1 Cor. 7:14].

“The Lord said to me again, ‘Go, love a woman who has a lover and is an adulteress, just as the Lord loves the people of Israel, though they turn to other gods'” (Hosea 3:1-2). Depiction of Hosea buying back Gomer, his wife-turned-prostitute, from her pimp. Hosea’s marriage was a prophetic sign of Israel’s unfaithfulness and God’s faithful and merciful covenant love. Image taken from livelifebythebook.files.wordpress.com

10 comments on ““Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church” — Ephesians 5:25

  1. Jennifer says:

    So true! Just so true!I look back and marvel at my life- I can speak as someone who has been that difficult, verbally abusive patient, that belittler, despiser, and mocker. By God’s INCREDIBLE grace working in beautiful people who loved me like Jesus, I was changed and spared from that angry miserable existence. I thank God for them! I marvel (and also cringe) that they put up with me! Please note, I am not saying: wow, look at me: I used to be so bad and now I am so awesome. No way! I used to be so lost thinking the world revolved around me and now I know that I am found and that I am in the father’s sheepfold and that the world revolves around him. Still a ton screw-ups but I am a person who lives with great hope!

    Happy Annunciation Day Eve! Hmmm… wonder what Mary was doing the day before her entire life got flipped upside down?

    • Wow. “We don’t need more teachers in the church, but more witnesses.” — Bl. Paul VI Thank you for being both, Jennifer! What was Mary doing? There’s my meditation for tomorrow morning — thank you! My first thought is — reading 1 Samuel 2:1-10. 🙂

      • Jennifer says:

        Yes, Mary must have had those words engraved in her heart as she echoes them so prophetically in her Magnificat! Yet another lesson in that we ought to ingest the Word on a regular basis so that we can recognize God’s voice when we hear it! Have a blessed day!

  2. Rosary Maker says:

    INDEED! – How awesome it is to be Catholic! And to think we are allowed to feely choose to be Catholic/Christian every day!

    Jennifer: I think Mary was doing what she did every day – listening – how I wish I could listen like her.

  3. WoopieCushion says:

    Faithfulness reciprocated by faithfulness is wonderfully ordinary. Unfaithfulness reciprocated by more faithfulness is wonderfully extraordinary. Thank God for God. Hope to live more like St. John teaches. Thank you.

  4. Anthony says:

    I love St John Chyrsostom! Thanks for sharing that. It’s a good reminder for those times when we have a tiff.

  5. n.o.s./p.b.w. y. all says:

    Even the ant can be a teacher of great import. If we look not on its stinging painful bite only , but on its relentless endeavor to rebuild the mound when time after time it is brought to a level of destruction that many with a dialect higher on the phylogenetic scale would simply move on, not wanting to embrace the task ahead. That task essential to the overall success of the community so . …….. each ant so called by the one great teacher to be not only a teacher but a witness to the great need for that sense of commitment to the success of the church, I’m sorry, I mean mound. So Thomas I would say , all are teachers that embrace that commandment by CHRIST TO LOVE AS I HAVE LOVED YOU .

    P. S. my addiction has won today , may I succeed tomorrow N.O.S.

    • n.o.s./p.b.w. y. all: Rarely do I rejoice in relapses into addiction, but I must here! “All are teachers who love as Christ commanded.” Well said! And you, even you, teach, n.o.s.. In spite of your extraordinarily sinful ways, O Felix Culpa! I am still taught — as is Pope Nick — by the memory of your biting wit, your tireless work ethic, your broad A accent, your constant service to regular folks like the Neals, your generous heart (laying tiles, building walkways!). Even remembering your ever-graying, wild-bearded face spurs me on to keep re-building the mounds. Oh, yes, and the wise fire ant! Yes, and even our Scriptures harmonize with your melody here:
      “Four things are among the smallest on the earth,
      and yet are exceedingly wise:
      Ants—a species not strong,
      yet they store up their food in the summer;
      Badgers—a species not mighty,
      yet they make their home in the crags;
      Locusts—they have no king,
      yet they march forth in formation;
      Lizards—you can catch them with your hands,
      yet they find their way into kings’ palaces.” — Proverbs 30:24-28

      Maybe now that I have honored you here you will break your addiction to commenting, as I know you loathe being praised. So I am helping you even against my own wishes!
      Carry on, brother in Jesus, as say he to the Trappist monks for me…I miss them. Peace and joy…

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