The third part of this series on the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist will center on Christian marriage as St. Paul speaks of in his letter to the Ephesians. In a true Christian marriage Jesus Christ is present: to the couple and to everyone close to them. It is a great mystery how Christ loves the Church and how a husband loves his wife. Paul speaks of mystery not in the sense of a mystery novel, but of a sign that speaks deeply to the people. This is the original meaning of the Greek word mysterion. Christian marriage is when the love of a couple creates a question mark to family and friends. Not puppy love, but a sign of deep Christian forgiveness.
In the culture of the time, and especially in Greece, the wife was always much younger than the husband, and never his equal. He was usually in his 30’s and the wife a teen, often a young teen. So to say that all would submit to one another was unheard of. Yes, the wife submits to the husband, absolutely, but that he also submits to her, a teen, absurd! How could Paul say this: only when Christ first submits totally to those who tortured him and killed him?
Marriage is a call for both spouses to give their life for the other as Christ gave his life for the Church. The husband ought to offer his life for his spouse, as Christ did. So when she rejects you, spurns you, nags you, do not threaten or lord it over her, or anything like that, but love her and give your life for her, and you will win her over. Christ has to be present in a marriage for this to happen…absolutely.
Love is present when accompanied by respect. What a woman or a man loves he or she respects and reveres. God’s only purpose in ordering marriage in this way is to attain peace. The man has one role in the family, the woman another. The man is the head and the woman is the heart; you cannot change this around. You cannot have two heads and no heart. One guides, the other supports and nourishes. If they have the same role there is no peace. There needs to be a differentiation of roles between the spouses, under a single head. This is what God ordained from the beginning.
The two will be one. What man does not take care of his body, and look after it? If he hurts or neglects her he hurts himself. When marriage is lived in this way there will be peace and harmony, and the couple will be a mysterion: a sign to the world that God exists and that God is love.