Friday, December 27, 2013

Holy Family

We are now past Christmas and on to the feast of the Holy Family. We see Joseph again. He is acting as the head of his family. Moving them to Egypt and then back to Nazareth. It is good that he is a builder rather than a farmer or a fisherman. He has skills that will travel. Still traveling is not easy in the first century. Just having a dream and suddenly you are on the road again.

Even though Mary is sinless it is Joseph that is given the dreams. Take the child and His mother. He acts as the head of the family. Mary plays the submissive wife. We get that in the first reading. Col 3:18-21:
Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.
This is a shorter version of  the Ephesians 5 passage that compares the husband and wife to Christ and the church.  Like Ephesians, Colossians 3 has a whole section on living the new life in Christ that precedes this. Get rid of anger, malice, slander, etc. and put on compassion, kindness, patience, etc. After all these commands comes the notion of wives submitting to husbands and husbands loving wives. Why is that important? If you get the first stuff right that really changes the way love and submission will go.

When we think of submission we think abuse. We think someone is dominating and disrespecting the other person. That can happen when you skip all the prior commands about how Christians are supposed to treat each other with great dignity and love. Don't do that. If you take communication seriously and you take forgiveness seriously and patience and compassion and all those other things listed there. If you do that then often the need for any sort of submission will go away. You will find a way to compromise and move on.

That will not always happen. There will inevitably be cases where you are unable to work something out. That is when the man and the woman have different roles. It does not mean the man always gets his way. Often it means the opposite because the husband is called to put his wife's happiness above his own. The point is they get past it. A decision is made by the husband and respected by the wife and a prolonged power struggle is avoided. The marriage is more important than whatever issue is causing the friction.

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