Brothers and sisters:
Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Savior. Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish. In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, because we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church. Each of you, however, should love his wife as himself, and a wife should respect her husband.
Happy is everyone who fears the Lord,
who walks in his ways.
You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
you shall be happy, and it shall go well with you.
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
around your table.
Thus shall the man be blessed
who fears the Lord.
The Lord bless you from Zion.
May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.
He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”
And again he said, “To what should I compare the kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”
The first reading on Christian marriage is famously disliked today for the sexual inequality it seems to convey. But if we begin talking about the role of the man, “love your wife and be willing to die for her as Christ died.” Also, “husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it…” it is easier to understand that the man has the greater responsibility to God and the harder role. It is easier to listen to a man when he has put your interests ahead of his own with tenderness and the goal of nourishing and sustaining yours.
After watching a movie version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, I read this first reading on Christian marriage and saw why the doctor was a bad marriage candidate. If you are acquainted with the movie, Dr. Jekyll loves the woman he is engaged to marry but he takes a terrible risk with his own body by drinking an experimental potion that can change him into a monster.
If women looked for men to marry who live for others rather than be self-centered, yet know how to take care of their own bodies, it is easy to believe that their wives would be happy and willing to listen to them. The psalm confirms a concern with happiness, prosperity, peace and abundance for the Christian home. The home is not about dominance but mutuality and support.
The Gospel talks about the Kingdom of God with two analogies. There is the tiny seed that becomes a huge tree and the leaven hidden in the flour. The two reveal a work in secret and bring growth and change. The things buried in our hearts are turned into our actions and choices, which are the characteristics of the Christian person. If we want to have a home that is holy, we learn to obey the little things God tells us so we can reap the reward He has for us.