TUESDAY OF THE THIRTY-SECOND WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Titus 2: 1-8, 11-14
But as for you, teach what is consistent with sound doctrine. Tell the older men to be temperate, serious, prudent, and sound in faith, in love, and in endurance.
Likewise, tell the older women to be reverent in behavior, not to be slanderers or slaves to drink; they are to teach what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be self-controlled, chaste, good managers of the household, kind, being submissive to their husbands, so that the word of God may not be discredited.
Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, gravity, and sound speech that cannot be censured; then any opponent will be put to shame, having nothing evil to say of us.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.
Psalm 37: 3-4, 18, 23, 27, 29, 39
Trust in the Lord, and do good;
so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
The Lord knows the days of the blameless,
and their heritage will abide forever;
Our steps are made firm by the Lord,
when he delights in our way;
Depart from evil, and do good;
so you shall abide forever.
The righteous shall inherit the land,
and live in it forever.
The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord.
Luke 17: 7-10
“Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’”
How did you react when you read St. Paul's instructions in today’s first reading? Did your eyebrows raise a little, particularly at phrases for women such as “good managers of their households” or “submissive to their husbands”? What about Jesus telling us to think of ourselves as “worthless slaves” in the Gospel? Even for devout Christians, lines such as these can prick our modern sensibilities. All the virtues encouraged in the readings today are not only disregarded but derided in our popular culture, and passages like these are often quoted to represent the Church as “backwards” or “oppressive.”
But think about the opposites of what St. Paul encourages. What are men like who are impulsive, rude, self-centered, hypocritical, foul-mouthed, and hard to motivate? What are women like who are irreverent and cut people down in their speech, who are alcoholic and promiscuous, who have contempt for men and the role of mothers and homemakers? This paints a really awful picture, yet this is often the result when people reject God and recoil at the thought of putting their flesh under submission even a little.
The world tells us to put ourselves first. We have seen this most starkly during this election season, when candidates have run entire platforms on telling mothers that their “autonomy” ranks higher than the lives of their unborn children, and telling men that their place is in satisfying their flesh and not speaking up for the vulnerable. But this “freedom” leads to the cruelest kind of slavery, which is slavery to sin. Jesus came to break that bondage for all of us, but our freedom rests in serving Him.
As you meditate on these Scriptures today, take time with the more difficult language, but also read it in light of the Psalm, wherein the Lord promises security, peace, and an eternal reward for those who will simply reject sin and love Him first. Let us entrust our personal lives to Him, asking Him to bring our own attitudes and habits more into line with His will. And, on this election day, let us also pray for our country, for the conversion of hearts and for the chains of sin that have bound our land to be broken.