Gospel: Lk 13:18-21
And Jesus continued, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? Imagine a person who has taken a mustard seed, and planted it in his garden. The seed has grown, and become like a small tree, so that the birds of the air shelter in its branches.”
And Jesus said again, “What is the kingdom of God like? Imagine a woman who has taken yeast, and hidden it in three measures of flour, until it is all leavened.”
In today’s first reading we hear the apostle Paul write that “wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord.”
Not many women today accept this teaching of Paul, and rightly so. Like all inspired authors of the Bible, Paul belonged to a particular culture and accepted uncritically a lot of his culture’s judgments, values, customs, viewpoints. For example, he never condemned slavery, whereas today slavery is universally condemned. He was hard on gays, because he thought that homosexuality was a free choice, whereas we now know it is not. He thought it a disgrace for men to wear long hair (1 Cor 11:14). In other words, like all of us he was conditioned by his culture to a large extent—including his views on submissive wives.
Fortunately, in his Apostolic Letter The Dignity of Women (August 15, 1988), Pope John Paul II completed Paul’s teaching by stating the following: “All the reasons in favor of the ‘subjection’ of woman to men in marriage must be understood in the sense of a ‘mutual subjection’ of both.” In other words, the husband must be subordinate to his wife just as much as the wife be subordinate to her husband. Paul’s text begins thus: “Be subordinate to one another.”