Eph 5:21-33; Ps 128:1-5; Lk 13:18-21: Our true blessedness is the fear of the LORD. Not that we are afraid of God, but we stand in awe and wonder at His revelation as the psalm proclaims—“Be still and know that I am God.” We fear the LORD because He is God and there is no other. We fear the LORD because He reveals the way we are to walk, to live a blessed life. Only then will we eat the fruit of our handiwork; blessed shall we be and favored. This life of holiness is compared to a happy and holy family life in our responsorial psalm. We find ourselves living with a fruitful spouse and our children are like olive plants around our table. This way of life unfolds into the blessing of the entire world, and we shall see the prosperity of the New Jerusalem all the days of our life. This New Jerusalem is the Kingdom of God that Saint Paul preaches to his beloved children in Ephesus. It is the great mystery of Christ and the church. This same mystery is given to us by the Lord Jesus in his parables of the tiny mustard seed and the pinch of yeast. Both metaphors are used to appeal to men and women who hear the Good News. Men, who are basically farmers, understand that the tiny grows into the large. Women, who do most of the cooking, understand that the pinch of yeast raises the dough and makes the bread. We who share this Bread of Life have come again to hear and eat the truth that alone will set us free.
Saint Paul summons the believers in Ephesus and all of us to live in the fear of the LORD. We are to live in love as Christ loved us. Husbands are to be sacrificial in loving their wives even as the Lord Christ loved the church and handed himself over to her to sanctify her by the cleansing of water in Baptism and the word that reveals the truth of human dignity in every time and place. Christ gave himself over to the mystery of the Cross so that he might present himself the church in the splendor of truth. No spot or wrinkle can distort the beauty of those who make up the Body of Christ, the church. Only lives of holiness and virtue will make marriage the hot spot of revelation in our world where marriage is often trivialized into some arrangement for mutual self-gratification. Saint Paul explains that husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. Anyone who loves his wife truly loves himself, because in marriage they are one body. Indeed, no one hates himself so how could he hatefully treat his wife? Rather, a husband nourishes and cherishes his other self in loving his wife. This bright example enables marriage to bring loving children into the community, and we participate in the mystery of Christ’s redeeming love which makes all things new. Such a great mystery is beyond all explanation. Indeed, marriage is a mystery to be lived not a problem to be solved.
The tiny beginnings of the church are indeed comparable to a mustard seed or to yeast. Only twelve men, mostly unrefined and uneducated fishermen went out weeping to sow the seed and came back rejoicing carrying the sheaves. The countless women who themselves supported the apostolic ministry and nourished the early community with daily bread. These we can see in their greatness today. At the outset they did not seem great, and the worldwide call to evangelize seemed only a pipe dream. Our witness and service to those in need both near and far seem to be but a little thing. However, it’s our eager expectation that enables us to faithfully endure until the end. Isn’t this why we gather here at the altar of the Word and the Eucharist to be encouraged in our little efforts to do such a great thing—to change the face of the earth. Without the Holy Spirit moving us into the parables of the Lord Jesus, we could never see beyond our most recent failure or false hope. Indeed some days it’s the torrent of tears alone that gives us true hope.