Today’s epistle reading is from St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians 5:25-33.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word. 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. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the Church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church. 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.
The blessed Jerome meditates on the great and exalted teaching of St Paul regarding Christ’s love for the Church and the Church’s love for Christ. He writes:
Gregory of Nazianzus, a very eloquent man and outstandingly versed in the Scriptures, used to say while discussing this passage with me: “See how great the promise in the passage is! The apostle, interpreting it as an analogy of Christ and the Church, does not himself even profess to have expounded it as the dignity of the idea demanded. He is in effect saying, “I know that this analogy is full of ineffable promises. It requires a divine heart in its interpretation. But in the weakness of my understanding, I can only say that in the meantime it should be interpreted as Christ in relation to the Church. Nothing is greater than Christ and the Church. Even all that is said of Adam and Eve is to be interpreted with reference to Christ and the Church.”
Today’s Gospel reading is from St Luke 9:44-50.
“Let this words sink down into your ears, for the Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men.” But they did not understand this saying, and it was hidden from them, so that they did not perceive it, and they were afraid to ask Him about this saying. Then a dispute arose among them as to which of them would be greatest. And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a little child and set him by Him, and said to them, “Whoever receives this little child in My name, receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives Him who sent Me. For he who is least among you all will be great.” Now John answered and said, “Master, we saw someone casting demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side.”
Jesus uses the child as an example to the disciples of humility and simplicity. St Cyril of Alexandria writes:
What kind of type and representation did He make the child He had taken? He made the child a representation of an innocent and humble life. The mind of a child is empty of fraud and his heart is sincere. His thoughts are simple, he does not covet rank, he does not know what is meant by one man being higher than another is. Christ brought forward the child as a pattern of simplicity and innocence. “And set him by Him.” He showed him as in an object lesson, that He accepts and loves those who are like the child. He thinks them worthy of standing at His side, as being like-minded with Him and anxious to walk in His steps.
If we truly seek to be great let us learn to serve in humility. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus, to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.