September 22 Epistle Reading

Ephesians 5:25-33

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

St. John Chrysostom in his Homily 20 on Ephesians 5 said:

“Do not turn your back on your wife because of her deformity …She is of God’s fashioning. You would not be reproaching her, but Him Who made her …Seek for beauty of soul …(Then) love, having begun on just grounds, still continues ardent, since its object is beauty of soul, and not of body. What better, tell me, than heaven? …Let us seek in a wife affectionateness, modest mindedness, gentleness: these are the characteristics of beauty …Let us do away the ‘blemishes’ that are on the soul. Such is the beauty God requires. Let us make her fair in God’s sight, not in our own. Let us not look for wealth nor for that high birth which is outward, but for that true nobility which is in the soul. Let no one endure to get rich by a wife, for such riches are base and disgraceful…”

“Why does he call it a great mystery? That it was something great and wonderful, the blessed Moses, or rather God, intimated. For the present, however, he says I speak regarding Christ: that having left the Father, He came down, and came to the Bride, and became one Spirit. ‘For he who is joined unto the Lord is one Spirit’ (I Cor.6:17) …It is a mystery …that a man should leave him who gave him being; him who begat him, and who brought him up; and her who travailed with him and had sorrow; those who have bestowed upon him so many and great benefits; those with whom he has been in familiar intercourse, and be joined to one who was never even seen by him and who has nothing in common with him, and should honor her before all others.”

Augustine the Blessed in his Tractate on the Gospel of John wrote:

“If Christ cleaved to the church so that they became one flesh, in what way did he ‘leave’ his Father? In what way did he ‘leave’ his mother? He left his Father in the sense that, when he was in the form of God he…emptied himself, assuming the form of a slave. …That means that he left the Father, not by deserting him or withdrawing from him but by coming to humanity in a lowly form in which he temporarily divested his glory with the Father.”

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