Husbands, Wives and The Ephesians


At the front of the text of the Spiritual Exercises, in section 22, to be exact, Ignatius has placed a “Presupposition”: that we should be more ready to give a favourable interpretation to another’s statement than we are to condemn it as false. These words apply not only to our conversations with one another but also to our listening to the reading of Scripture. In Ephesians, we find the verse, “Wives, be subject to your husbands” (5:22). How do we hear these words? How ready are we to put a good interpretation on them?Source:

If we happen to be husbands, well, no worries, mate! We probably won’t object to these words too strenuously. If we happen to be wives, however, we may encounter more difficulty with them. Have we been able even to hear the preceding verse—“Brothers and sisters, be subject to one another”?  “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ”? Christ dwells in each and every Christian, christed, christened in baptism. How are we to show reverence for Christ in one another?

Paul is here addressing a Christian household, as is clear when we move on to the next few verses, 6:1-9. He is speaking to wives and husbands, to children and slaves or servants. He seems to have set up a kind of hierarchy. In any case, he places wives at the top of his list, which strikes me as significant. The plan of God is to gather up all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth (Ephesians 1:10). Christ is in all things, and all things are in Christ. And so we are called to revere Christ in one another, to revere the risen Christ in every created thing.

Source: dreamstime.comThe Gospel  draws our attention to what is small (the mustard seed) and to what is hidden (the cells of yeast, at work, fermenting, and transforming matter in powerful ways). I think it was the Incas who had the saying, “The seed can split the mountain.” They would pour tiny seeds into cracks in rocks in order to split them; then they would water the seeds and let them grow until eventually a rock would burst asunder. This takes patience, of course.

The most powerful, most hidden force at work in the world is the force of love—God’s love, hidden in our hearts. It is a force that can break open the stoniest of hearts, that can transform whatever in us that is hardened, cold, frozen. This takes patience, of course. Brothers and sisters, let us be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Eric Jensen, SJ, works in the Spiritual Exercises ministry at Loyola House, Guelph, Ontario. He also paints and writes. He is the author of Entering Christ's Prayer (Ave Maria Press, 2007)and Ignatius Loyola and You (Novalis 2018).

  • Paul Baker
    Posted at 06:13h, 27 February Reply

    Thanks Eric for a very insightful and meaningful reflection.

  • Vicky Chen
    Posted at 06:18h, 27 February Reply

    Very insightful application of the Spiritual Exercises. I’ve never looked at it from this perspective.
    Thank you, Eric.

  • Peter Bisson, SJ
    Posted at 07:20h, 27 February Reply

    Thank you Eric!

  • Barbara Lewis
    Posted at 08:26h, 27 February Reply

    Pittsburgh 40 Days for life returns to the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood next Wednesday, Ash Wednesday.
    Nikki Bruni, our beloved director, invites us to join her and we fill the sidewalk with prayer for 12 hours daily; kneeling, praying, singing, fasting.
    We look silly; bundled, weathered, entreating reluctant hearts.
    We till the abortion soaked soil at this abortion site.
    Our beloved Father plants the seeds of love.
    Thank you.

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