Here are the readings for today.
Ephesians 5:21-33; Psalm 128:1-5; Luke 13:18-21
Submit. Obey. Surrender. These words appeared again and again in both the daily readings and the Divine Office, Office of Readings. Here are some examples:
Antiphons from the Divine Office (from Psalm 37):
- Surrender to God, and he will do everything for you.
- Turn away from evil, learn to do God’s will; the Lord will strengthen you if you obey him.
- Wait for the Lord to lead, then follow in his way.
And today’s first reading from Ephesians is the famous (or infamous) passage about submission and specifically, wives submitting to their husbands:
Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord.
For the husband is head of his wife
just as Christ is head of the Church,
he himself the savior of the Body.
As the Church is subordinate to Christ,
so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything.
Words like submit, obey and surrender are considered dirty words, especially in American society where rugged individualism, acquiring wealth and power, and making it to the top no matter what are of primary importance to so many. For women especially, these are fighting words (understandable since women have known oppression all over the world for so long, and so many still do).
What’s often missed, however, is verse 21 which comes just before that section:
Brothers and sisters:
Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.
This here is the key. Submit, obey and surrender don’t have the same meanings when applied to God. As is so common in the Christian life, things are not as they appear. In the world these words bring to mind slavery, captivity, restraint, limitation, imprisonment or subjection. In the eyes of God, submit, obey and surrender actually mean true freedom.
If I am to be subordinate to the Lord, I must learn to trust Him. Trust is not learned overnight, especially if your trust has been betrayed by those you love. I need to be intimate relationship with God and pursue Him constantly. As that relationship grows, I find that my desire to be subordinate grows too because I learn to trust Him.
A few years ago, anxiety over our finances ruled my life. I would wake up at 4am and worry myself sick until it was time to get up. I would make myself physically sick because of worry. I also disrupted the lives of my family members because of that worry.
I pursued a relationship with God but did not understand at the time about subordinating myself to Him. He in his graciousness showed me how even when I didn’t directly ask for it. Slowly He transformed me and in time, I learned to let go of my worries; I stopped trying to control every aspect of my life. In return, I found a deep and lasting peace – freedom from my worry - which I wouldn’t trade for the world.
When I had my worry replaced by His peace, my relationships with family members improved, especially with my husband. I began to learn what sacrificial love was and desired to practice it. We became subordinate to each other our of our love for Christ.
Submit, obey and surrender are no longer dirty words to me. God has transformed their meaning for me into something beautiful and very desirable.