Marriage
Part 2 The Rite of Marriage

Chapter 26 Lectionary: New Testament

About This Page

802-1 Romans 8:31b-35, 37-39 – What will separate us from the love of Christ?

802-2 Romans 12:1-2, 9-18 – Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.

802-3 Romans 15:1b-3a, 5-7, 13 – Welcome one another as Christ welcomed you.

802-4 I Corinthians 6:13c-15a, 17-20 – Your body is a temple of the Spirit.

802-5 I Corinthians 12:31-13:8a – If I do not have love, I gain nothing.

802-6 Ephesians 5:2a, 21-33 – This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the Church.

802-7 Philippians 4:4-9 – The God of peace will be with you.

802-8 Colossians 3:12-17 – And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection.

802-9 Hebrews 13:1-4a, 5-6b – Let marriage be held in honor by all.

 802-10 I Peter 3:1-9 – Be of one mind, sympathetic, loving toward one another.

802-11 I John 3:18-24 – Love in deed and in truth.

802-12 I John 4:7-12 – God is love.

802-13 Revelation 19:1, 5-9a – Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the lamb.

About This Page

This web page contains the New Testament readings for marriage.  The paragraph of background material (exegesis) together with the homily hints  were  originally written by participants in the course "Sacrament of Marriage" and are intended to be of practical assistance to couples planning their wedding ceremony and to pastors and others preparing to preach on these texts.   These paragraphs are not entirely original and are taken for the most part from the books listed in the section "Works Consulted."  We hope they will be helpful to you in planning the wedding liturgy.

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802-1 Romans 8:31b-35, 37-39 – What will separate us from the love of Christ?

Brothers and Sisters:
If God is for us, who can be against us?
    He did not spare his own Son
    but handed him over for of us all,
    will he not also give us everything else
        along with him?
Who will bring a charge against God's chosen ones?
It is God who acquits us.
Who will condemn?
It is Christ Jesus who died, rather, was raised,
    who also is at the right hand of God,
    who indeed intercedes for us.
What will separate us from the love of Christ?
Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine,
    or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?

No, in all these things, we conquer overwhelmingly
    through him who loved us
For I am convinced that neither death nor life,
    nor angels, nor principalities,
    nor present things, nor future things,
    nor powers, nor height, nor depth,
    nor any other creature will be able to separate us
    from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1970, Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington. DC.  Used with permission.  All rights reserved.  No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Exegesis

Paul's Letter to the Romans chapter 8 is an excellent source for spirituality of the couple in the sacrament of marriage.  The reading on which I am going to write is at the end of chapter 8, but to have a fuller understanding of this reading as it has to do with marriage, I think we will do well to look at the preceding part of chapter 8. 

Romans 8 is answering the question about who brings us salvation, specifically from sin.  The answer is Jesus Christ and the power of his Spirit at work in the world today.  Thus, for me this is evidence of how Jesus instituted marriage as a sacrament.  That is, living in union with your spouse is made possible by the power of Christ Spirit among us.  Jesus sending his Spirit among us is evidence of God's love for us.  When spouses live in the Spirit of Jesus, they manifest the love of God for us.
Romans 8 goes on to talk about how the self-centered person can only be on the path towards death.  On the other hand, the way of life is by submitting oneself to the Spirit by living as one with Jesus.  Required for living as one with Jesus is to submit to the law that Jesus would have us live.  This is all in context of avoiding the pursuit of the flesh and living in the Spirit.  Again, St. Paul witnesses to the power of the Spirit, which we can say makes it possible for a spouse to live for the other and for the two to become one, just as we are one with Jesus through the Spirit.

Homily Hints

Works Consulted Collegeville Bible Commentary

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802-2 Romans 12:1-2, 9-13 – Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.

I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God,
    to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice,
    holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.
Do not conform yourselves to this age
    but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
    that you may discern what is the will of God,
    what is good and pleasing and perfect.

Let love be sincere;
    hate what is evil,
    hold on to is good;
    love one another with mutual affection;
    anticipate one another in showing honor.
Do not grow slack in zeal
    be fervent in spirit;
    serve the Lord.
Rejoice in hope,
    endure in affliction,
    persevere in prayer.
Contribute to the needs of the holy ones;
    exercise hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you,
    bless and do not curse them.
Rejoice whit those who rejoice,
    weep with those who weep.
Have the same regard for one another;
    do not be haughty but associate with the lowly;
    do not be wise in your own estimation.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil;
    be concerned for what is noble in the sight of all.
If possible, on your part, live at peace with all.

Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1970, Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington. DC.  Used with permission.  All rights reserved.  No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Exegesis  We were all baptized.  The rite of baptism is one and the same for all professing Christians, from whatever cultural background (Col. 3:10f)."

"17, 18.  A body needs many components to carry out its varied functions.  God in His wisdom provides them all and fits and places them for their own tasks."  [D. Guthrie and J.A. Motyer, The New Bible Commentary Revised, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1970) 1067.]

"To "cling to what is good" (v 9) is to be wedded to it.  Total commitment leaves neither time nor inclination to court evil."   "Honor one another above yourselves (v 10).  To honor is to accord recognition and show appreciation."   [D. Guthrie and J.A. Motyer, The New Bible Commentary Revised, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1970) 1067.]

"Their life (v.12) should be a steady stream of rejoicing in hope, remaining patient under suffering, and giving themselves to prayer."   [Leander Keck, The New Interpreter's Bible, vol. X (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002) 712.]

Homily Hints  Marriage is similar to baptism in that once husband and wife participate in the sacrament, that they are changed.  They are changed in the sense that they have a new commitment, that being committed to their spouse.  Marriage and the church are similar in that both require individuals to strive to promote others interests, instead of promoting one's own interest.

Commend a newly married couple in seeing good in each other, invite them to be an example for your church community, as how to show love for one another.  Remind married couples to compliment one another on a daily basis, so as to see the image of Christ in one another.

Rejoice and be proud of your commitment to one another, remember the very source and foundation of your marriage, that being your love for one another and your love for God.  Make it a daily habit to pray with one another so that when bad times occur you will have a solid foundation, to weather the storm.  Marriage and prayers are both life time commitments, if we remain faithful to both we will receive much fruit, and a bountiful harvest will be reaped.

Works Consulted D. Guthrie and J.A. Motyer, The New Bible Commentary Revised, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1970) 1067.
D. Guthrie and J.A. Motyer, The New Bible Commentary Revised, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1970) 1067.
Leander Keck, The New Interpreter's Bible, vol. X (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002) 712.

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802-3 Romans 15:1b-3a, 5-7, 13 – Welcome one another as Christ welcomed you.

Brothers and sisters:
We ought to put up with the failings of the weak and
        not to please ourselves;
    let each of us please our neighbor for the good,
    for building up.
For Christ did not please himself.
May the God of endurance and encouragement
    grant you to think in harmony with one another,
    in keeping with Christ Jesus,
    that with one accord you may with one voice
    glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you,
    for the glory of God.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy
        and peace in believing,
    so that you may abound in hope by the power
        of the Holy Spirit.

Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1970, Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington. DC.  Used with permission.  All rights reserved.  No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Exegesis

Homily Hints

Works Consulted 

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802-4 I Corinthians 6:13c-15a, 17-20 – Your body is a temple of the Spirit.

Brothers and sisters:
The body is not for immorality; but for the Lord,
    and the Lord is for the body.
    God raised up the Lord and will also raise us by his power.

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?
Whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit
    with him.
Avoid immortality.
Every other sin a man commits is outside his body,
    but the immoral person sins against his own body.
Do you not know that your body
    is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you,
    whom you have from God, and that you are not
        your own?
For you have been purchased at a price.
Therefore glorify God in your body.

Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1970, Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington. DC.  Used with permission.  All rights reserved.  No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Exegesis  If our bodies are to be raised, God must attach importance to actions performed in and through the body.  The physical resurrection of the body is emphasized here by Paul.  The Christian community is the physical presence of Christ in the world.  One cannot be a part of this mission if one is to use the gift of co-creation casually, neglectfully or flippantly.  There is a suggestion in the text that temporary pleasure without real communication denies the full union that is from God's intention found in Genesis 2:24  (The two become one).  Paul is exhorting the faithful to shun fornication, be aware of motives from within, and not to pervert the intention of the most intimate physical act.  Unity of the community is important to St. Paul regarding this passage.  In verse 19, the holiness of the community must be reflected in the behavior of each member.  Our bodies are to be used proper to their order, for we have been ransomed so that we might serve others. 

Homily Hints  We are saved in Christ's body and our own body is important to God because we were his creation.
Holiness is found in the nuptial embrace.  The intimacy that is created within the marriage should help the nature of the married couple to be deeply open to grace.
The body is a temple of the Holy Spirit:  Treat your spouse that way!

Works Consulted The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, ed. by Raymond E. Brown.  “The First Letter To The Corinthians,” by Jerome Murphy-O'Connor.  Pg. 804-#32.  Prentice Hall, New Jersey.  1990.

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802-5 I Corinthians 12:31-13:8a – If I do not have love, I gain nothing.

Brothers and sisters:
Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.

But I shall show you a still more excellent way.

If I speak in human and angelic tongues
    but do not have love,
    I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.   
And if I have the gift of prophecy
    and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge;
    if I have all faith so as to move mountains,
    but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give away everything I own,
    and if I hand my body over so that I may boast
    but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind.
It is not jealous, is not pompous,
    it is not inflated, it is not rude,
    it does not seek its own interests,
    it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over
        injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing
    but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things,
    hopes all things, endures all things

Love never fails.

Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1970, Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington. DC.  Used with permission.  All rights reserved.  No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Exegesis  “If I do not have love, I gain nothing.”   This verse speaks of the power and superiority of love.  There is incompleteness if you do not have love.  This passage characterizes love in three ways: first, what love is in two positive descriptions, (“Love is patient, love is kind”); second what love does not do in eight negative descriptions, (“love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude.  Love does not insist on it's own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong”); and third what love does in five positives, (“rejoices in the right, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”).  This type of love is agape love.  This love starts with God who needs nothing from creatures but by love brings them into being makes them noble.  God gave us his Son out of this agape love to atone for our sins.  We must become channels of this love by passing this love on to others whom we love, not evaluating their goodness and without motivation.

Note:  Commenting on this passage, Pope Benedict XVI says:  "Saint Paul, in his hymn to charity (cf. 1 Cor 13), teaches us that it is always more than activity alone: 'If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, I gain nothing' (v. 3). This hymn must be the Magna Carta of all ecclesial service; it sums up all the reflections on love which I have offered throughout this Encyclical Letter. Practical activity will always be insufficient, unless it visibly expresses a love for man, a love nourished by an encounter with Christ. My deep personal sharing in the needs and sufferings of others becomes a sharing of my very self with them: if my gift is not to prove a source of humiliation, I must give to others not only something that is my own, but my very self; I must be personally present in my gift."  (Deus caritas est, 34)

Homily Hints  Love never ends.  This unconditional love is necessary in a marriage and will help carry them through any difficulties they may encounter in their lives.
Love is all about self-giving, without expecting anything in return.
Love each other as Christ has loved you.

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802-6 Ephesians 5:2a, 25-32 – This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the Church.

Brothers and sisters:
Live in love, as Christ loved us
    and handed himself over for us.

Husbands, love your wives,
    even as Christ loved the Church
    and handed himself over for her to sanctify her,
    cleansing her by the bath of water with the word
    that he might present to himself the Church
        in splendor,
    without spot or wrinkle or any such thing,
    that she might be holy and without blemish.
So also husbands should lover their wives
        as their own bodies.
He who loves his wife loves himself.
For no one hates his own flesh
    but rather nourishes and cherishes it,
    even as Christ does the Church,
    because we are members of his Body.

    For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother
        and be joined to his wife,
    and the two shall become one flesh.

This is a great mystery,
    but I speak in reference to Christ and the Church.

Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1970, Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington. DC.  Used with permission.  All rights reserved.  No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Exegesis

Homily Hints

Works Consulted 

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802-7 Philippians 4:4-9 – The God of peace will be with you.

Brothers and sisters:
Rejoice in the Lord always.
I shall say it again: rejoice!
Your kindness should be known to all.
The Lord is near.
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything,
    by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
    make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
    will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters,
    whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
    whatever is just, whatever is pure,
    whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious,
    if there is any excellence
    and if there is anything worthy of praise,
    think about these things.
Keep on doing what you have learned and received
    and heard and seen in me.
Then the God of peace will be with you.

Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1970, Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington. DC.  Used with permission.  All rights reserved.  No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Exegesis

This passage comes almost at the end of Paul's letter to the Philippians, during his closing exhortation.  He is expressing several general matters as to the everyday living of the Christian life.  This section appears to be a string of unconnected thoughts, but all of them are beautiful and appropriate.  It seems that they could be pearls of wisdom that he failed to work in elsewhere in the letter, but he did not want them to go to waste!

He begins by exhorting the Philippians to continually "rejoice in the Lord" and to show their gentle way of life to all.  He continues in his apocalyptic vein by saying that the Lord is near, but reminds them to always be thankful, which is one of his major themes throughout this letter.  If they do these things then they will be blessed with the peace of Christ. 

The last two verses of this reading offer a list of virtues (truth, nobility, purity, etc.) which Paul encourages his audience to live by, a list which undeniably has its roots in Greek philosophy, showing that Christianity is not incompatible with pagan culture.  He ends by saying that if they follow all he has taught them "the God of peace" will be with them.

Homily Hints This reading certainly offers beautiful words of encouragement to a couple on their wedding day.  Such ideas as rejoicing and the Lord being near are certainly wonderful ideas to build upon.  The idea of being thankful and peaceful throughout the marriage is also a fruitful idea.  The last list of virtues could certainly be expounded upon as the necessary qualities for a successful life together.

Works Consulted  The International Bible Commentary.  Liturgical Press, ed. by William R. Farmer
The New Interpreter's Bible, Vol. XI-Abingdon Press, ed. by Neil M. Alexander

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802-8 Colossians 3:12-17 – And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection.

Brothers and sisters:
Put on, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved,
    heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility,
        gentleness, and patience,
    bearing with one another and forgiving one another,
    if one has a grievance against another;
    as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.
And over all these put on love,
    that is, the bond of perfection.
And let the peace of Christ control your hearts,
    the peace into which you were also called in one Body.
And be thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,
    as in all the wisdom you teach and admonish one another,
    singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs
    with gratitude in your hearts to God.
And whatever you do, in word or in deed,
    do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
    giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1970, Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington. DC.  Used with permission.  All rights reserved.  No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Exegesis  The author (Paul) names one by one virtues which every Christian should have or wear as cloth -heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing one another and forgiving one another.  He singles out love as the highest virtue that unites and perfects the rest of other virtues (Col. 3: 14; 1 Cor. 13:13; 1 Pet. 4:8).   According to the author, Christians as members of Christ's body, the Church are called to be people of peace. “Called has the same meaning as Chosen.” As a community, Christians are urged to be thankful (Col. 3:15b).   The author mentioned thanksgiving again with greater precision in Col.3: 17b. Between verse 15 and 17, he mentioned the ways in which thanksgiving are to be done.  Thanksgiving to God the father bears witness to our Christian life. Christian life is thanksgiving, which is Eucharist.

Homily Hints  The beautiful gift couples will give to each other is heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another.
The secret of doing these is simple: Love
Couples by sharing in the Eucharist renew their covenant not only with Jesus but also with each other.
Couples should live in perfect peace and harmony. It is God's wish for them and their vocation.
Couples should teach one another as Christ has taught us
It is right for couples to give thanks to God always

Works Consulted  The Collegeville Bible Commentary  Ed. Robert J. Karris. (Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1992). 1185.
The HarperCollins Study Bible: New Revised Standard Version. Ed. Wayne A. Meeks. (San Francisco: Harper Collin Publishers, 1993).

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802-9 Hebrews 13:1-4a, 5-6b – Let marriage be held in honor by all.

Brothers and sisters:
Let mutual love continue. 
Do not neglect hospitality,
    for through it some have unknowingly
        entertained angels. 
Be mindful of prisoners as if sharing their imprisonment,
    and of the ill-treated as of yourselves,
    for you also are in the body.
Let marriage be honored among all
    and the marriage bed be kept undefiled,
Let your life be free from love of money
    but be content with what you have,
    for he has said, I
will never forsake you or abandon you.
Thus we may say with confidence:

    The Lord is my helper,
    and I will not be afraid.

Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1970, Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington. DC.  Used with permission.  All rights reserved.  No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Exegesis  These verses in the last chapter of Hebrews are pastoral instructions and a reminder about the Christian belief of love, hospitality, works of mercy, marital loyalty and greed. These issues are broken up into four exhortations.   The first exhortation concerns “brother” love and the love of strangers. Christ was not ashamed to address believers as his “brother,” likewise Christians are to continue in demonstrating this love to on another. But this love is not just between Christians; we are to be hospitable and to accept strangers into our community. Married spouses can show this hospitality by opening their homes in the promotion of evangelism, teaching and fellowship. The second exhortation tells us to remember those who are in prison, even as if we are selves were alongside of them. This was written in the Early Church to assist those who were in prison because of their faith. Today, “imprisonment” takes many forms: the elderly, homebound, those in hospital and others. As Christians we are to share the good news of Jesus Christ to them as well. The third exhortation focuses on marriage. Marriage the natural development out of “brotherly' love. The Scripture insists that marriage should be honored by all, and that in being “undefiled,” and not immoral and adulterous, the sacrament of marriage will be blessed by God. The last exhortation concerns greed. In this highly materialistic society one can easily become a slave to the love of money. Christians should live their lives free from this love and trust in the providential goodness of the Lord.

Homily Hints  A generous Christian marriage expresses God's hospitality and love.
Good, loving marriages just don't happen, they take work.
When one is self-focused, one has a hard time seeing the needs of others.

Works Consulted  Raymond Brown, Christ Above All: The Message of Hebrews, (Downers Grove, IL: Inter Varsity Press, 1992)
The New Interpreter's Bible, Vol. XII, Hebrews, James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1, 2, & 3 John, Jude & Revelations, (Nashville: Abington Press, 1998)

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802-10 I Peter 3:1-9 – Be of one mind, sympathetic, loving toward one another.

Beloved:
You wives should be subordinate to your
        husbands so that,
    even if some disobey the word,
    they may be won over without a word by their wives' conduct
    when they observe your reverent and chaste behavior.
Your adornment should not be an external one:
    braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry, or dressing in fine clothes,
    but rather the hidden character of the heart,
    expressed in the imperishable beauty
    of a gentle and calm disposition,
    which is precious in the sight of God.
For this is also how the holy women who hoped in God
    once used to adorn themselves
    and were subordinate to their husbands;
    thus Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him "lord."
You are her children when you do what is good
    and fear no intimidation.

Likewise, you husbands should live with your
        wives in understanding,
    showing honor to the weaker female sex,
    since we are joint heirs of the gift of life,
    so that your prayers may not be hindered.

Finally, all of you, be of one mind, sympathetic,
    loving toward one another, compassionate, humble.
Do not return evil for evil, or insult for insult;
    but, on the contrary, a blessing, because to this
        you were called,
    that you might inherit a blessing.

Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1970, Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington. DC.  Used with permission.  All rights reserved.  No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Exegesis A  This passage may raise some eyebrows, as it is one of those exhorting wives to be subordinate to their husbands.  Yet, it is important to look deeper in order to grow in understanding of this passage.  The most extensive treatment of this passage that I have seen comes from John H. Elliot's commentary as a part of the Anchor Bible series.  Here are some of the highlights:

It is important to keep in mind the conventional cultural norms and expectations behind this exhortation.  The patriarchy and gender differences are a reflection of historical and social customs (554, 582).

The focus on women was to illustrate the behavior of all believers: that living a holy life will convert those who do not believe to the faith (583).

Good wifely conduct would lessen suspicions that Christians had no respect for domestic order and conventional familial authority (584)

Although the author presumes, though does not argue with, the prevailing perceptions of women, he suggests that they are models of Christian belief through their reverence for God, their conversion, their solidarity, and their being co-heirs with their husbands (584-585).

This address is not an exhortation to servility but a call to wives to witness to their faith, a call issued to all believers in 2:12 (585).

This passage is really an encouragement for the entire household of God (585).

The final two verses are addressed to the whole community and involve a renunciation of retaliation and vengeance (600, 616).

The Collegeville Bible Commentary sees this passage as having both a “missionary” angle (conversion of pagan husbands), as well as a “propaganda bias” to end suspicion and hostility about Christians being free of civic institutions.  Ray Brown talks about how this passage was not meant to change the social order, but to encourage those Christians who exist within it.  Finally, the New Jerome Biblical Commentary, besides providing another witness to the idea that wives were encouraged to win over their husbands to the faith through their conduct, states that husband and wife being “joint heirs of the gift of life” means that both receive grace from God for the life they life together.

Exegesis B  It is important to know that First Peter is very sectarian which might sway some contemporary Christians to avoid it due to heavy emphasis on submissiveness and obedience.  Christianity is portrayed throughout 1 Peter and especially within this passage as meekly submissive.  And theologically, this behavioral mannerism paints the Christology.  3:1-6 deals with the submission of Christian wives.  Families in the NT times were clearly patriarchal.  Although regarding religious matters, women were considered as co-heirs with their husbands in faith.  This spiritual leavening of worth is important to emphasize as later verses show.  It is important for the wife to be submissive to her husband, not because she is the weaker (physically) sex, but because this submissiveness would divert man's inclination to look at the physical and search for the character of the wife:  or the heart of the person.  The passage uses the OT in reference of Sarah as the example all woman should pattern themselves after in their efforts of obedience.  3:7-9 turns to discuss the obligation of Christian husbands.  The emphasis here is not so much as being subjective to the wife but rather focusing on the relationship of marriage in which everything possible is done to foster the spiritual life of the home.  The best way for him to accomplish this is by showing the wife respect and not despise her physical weakness.  Disregarding these things and anything else that diminishes the women's coheirship of “the gracious gift of life” will tarnish also their relationship with God.  Lastly, this passage joins both the married couple and the community at large as partners against the larger society's temptations and hostility.  God will provide the grace necessary to enable the community to grow into maturity.

Homily Hints  Both wife and husband are responsible for helping to bring the other to holiness.
Both members of the couple, as well as the couple together, are to witness to their faith and be models to the world, especially to those who do not believe.

The great desire of Christians is for God; this sometimes will compete against the desire for one another.
Whether the family is patriarchal or matriarchal, both husband and wife are equal in the eyes of God.
The job of both husband and wife is to get the other one into heaven.
Proper marital relationships cannot be separated from relationship with God expressed in prayer.


Works Consulted John H. Elliot. 1 Peter. The Anchor Bible (New York: Doubleday, 1964).
Raymond E. Brown. An Introduction to the New Testament (New York: Doubleday, 1964), 710.
Joseph A. Fitzmeyer. “The First Epistle of Peter.” The New Jerome Biblical Commentary (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968), 366.
Jerome H. Neyrey. “1 Peter.” The Collegeville Bible Commentary (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press), 1232.
Gaebelein, Frank E., ed. The Expositors Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan              Company, 1979) v. 12, 236-38.
Keck, Leander E., ed. The New Interpreters Bible (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1998) vol. 12, 238-40.
Brown, Raymond, ed. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1990), 906.

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802-11 I John 3:18-24 – Love in deed and in truth.

Children, let us love not in word or speech
    but in deed and truth.

Now this is how we shall know that we belong
        to the truth
    and reassure our hearts before him
    in whatever our hearts condemn,
    for God is greater than our hearts and knows
        everything
Beloved, if your hearts do not condemn us,
    we have confidence in God
    and receive from him whatever we ask,
    because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
And his commandment is this:
    we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ,
    and love one another just as he commanded us.
Those who keep his commandments remain in him,
        and he in them,
    and the way we know that he remains in us
    is from the Spirit that he gave us.

Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1970, Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington. DC.  Used with permission.  All rights reserved.  No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Exegesis  In this passage there are two issues being discussed.  First, there is the reassurance of the heart and second, there is the keeping of the commandments.  This passage is telling us that God is greater than our hearts.  It is in this affirmation that John hopes to find certainty in times of doubt.  The word “hearts” in this passage may refer to thought, emotions, or something like conscience, but in any case has to do with the inner life of the individual and his or her state of being.  It seems that John is saying that when our inner being judges against us, we are reassured by the fact that God is greater that our hearts and he knows everything.  God's grace and forgiveness exceeds our inner state of being and God's knowledge measures us with greater generosity than we can measure ourselves. 

Faithfulness to the commandments assures one of a reciprocal relationship between the Christian and God.  Keeping the commandments is closely linked with the relationship of God and the Christian, for it is the relationship, which motivates faithfulness, and faithfulness which nurtures the relationship.  The Holy Spirit plays a major role in this reciprocal relationship.  John' fundamental concept of the Holy Spirit is that of the presence of God made possible through the revelation in Christ and contingent upon him. John is offering us self-identity through defining the origin and destiny of a Christian. 

St. Augustine says that what John is teaching us here is that we reassure of hearts before God when we love in deed and in truth.  What does “before God” mean?  It means there where God sees us.  This is why the Lord himself says in the Gospel, “Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”  Many people perform marvels through worldly desire.  That's the left hand working, not the right.  It's the right hand that must work while the left hand remains ignorant.  Then no worldly desire is mixed in when we do something good out of love.  If we reassure our hearts, let it be before God.  For if our hearts condemn us, if they accuse us from within, because we don't act with the intention we ought to have, we need to remember that God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.  We can hide our hearts from other human beings, but can we hide it from God?

Homily Hints  We should be aware at all times of the importance of the love of God.  In turn, we show are love to God by keeping His commandments.
God knows everything and He alone knows the motives for our actions.
We are to love the other for God's sake.   

Works Consulted  Kysar, Robert.  Augsburg Commentary on the New Testament. I, II, III John.  Augsburg Pub.  Minneapolis, MN. 1986.
Leinenweber, John.  Trans.  Love One Another, My Friends.  St. Augustine's Homilies on
The First Letter of John.  Harper & Row Pub. San Francisco. 1989.

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802-12 I John 4:7-12 – God is love.

Beloved, let us love one another,
    because love is of God;
    everyone who loves is begotten by God
        and knows God.
Whoever is without love does not know God,
        for God is love.
In this way the love of God was revealed to us:
    God sent his only-begotten Son into the world
    so that we might have life through him.
In this is love:
    not that we have loved God, but that he loved us
    and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.
Beloved, if God so loved us,
    we also must love one another.
No one has ever seen God.
Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us,
    and his love is brought to perfection in us.

Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1970, Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington. DC.  Used with permission.  All rights reserved.  No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Exegesis  The primary focus of this passage is that the love that God has for us generates our love for God and for one another.  We know that it is not because of anything that we have done, but simply because we exist, that God loves us.  In this we know that God does not stay at a distance, but is intimately involved in our everyday lives and relationships.  Along with verses 8-20, this passage is very tightly woven and there are many parallels that can be drawn between the various verses (8//16: God is love; 10//16//19: God loved us first; 10//14: The Father sent the Son as an example of his love; 12//20: No one has ever seen God; 20//21: If one loves God, one will love his or her brothers and sisters), all of which center around the idea that because God has loved us, we also must love one another.  By loving one another we make present in this world, not only the memory of God, but the love of God, who is made visible through our love.

Homily Hints  The fact that the man and the woman will, through their love for one another, bring about divine love here on earth could be emphasized.  This would help the couple to understand that what they are entering into goes far beyond them.
The idea that the Father sent the Son to die on the cross as the fullest expression of his love for us would be good to point out, since love must involve the total self-giving of both partners.
It may also be good for the couple to know that God is always present in their relationship, even if and when things get difficult.  God does not stay at a distance, but is very intimately involved in their everyday lives.

Works Consulted  Neal M. Flanagan, O.S.M., “John,” The Collegeville Bible Commentary: New Testament, (Collegeville, Liturgical Press, 1992), 1006.
 

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802-13 Revelation 19:1, 5-9a – Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.

I, John, heard what sounded like the loud voice
    of a great multitude in heaven, saying:

        "Alleluia!
    Salvation, glory, and might belong to our God."

A voice coming from the throne said:

    "Praise our God, all you his servants,
        and you who revere him, small and great."

Then I heard something like the sound
        of a great multitude
    or the sound of rushing water or mighty peals
        of thunder,
    as they said:
        "Alleluia!
    The lord has established his reign,
        our God, the almighty.
    Let us rejoice and be glad
        and give him glory.
    For the wedding day of the Lamb has come,
        his bride has made herself ready.
    She was allowed to wear
        a bright, clean linen garment."
(The linen represents the righteous deeds of the
        holy ones.)

Then the angel said to me,
    "Write this:
    Blessed are those who have been called
    to the wedding feast of the Lamb."

Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1970, Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington. DC.  Used with permission.  All rights reserved.  No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Exegesis  In the context of the book of Revelation, this reading immediately follows a lament over Rome's wickedness and killing of early believers. Rome is portrayed as Babylon, familiar as the foe of Israel. Chapter 19 tells of the victory of Christ and the invitation to join in the marriage feast. The hymn of chapter 19 recalls Old Testament imagery of a marriage between God and Israel. In the Old Testament, sometimes the marriage was marked by faithfulness and sometimes by unfaithfulness on Israel's part (Hosea 2; Isaiah 54; Ezekiel 16). However, God was consistently faithful. Now, in Revelation, the marriage is between Jesus Christ (the lamb/bridegroom) and his believers (the bride). This passage is where Vatican II took the image of the church, “spotless bride” (in a white dress) as married to Christ, the “spotless lamb” (Lumen Gentium).

The hymn is not just a hymn of victory over Rome, but is also a song of excitement and exaltation that salvation has come in Jesus Christ, the Lamb. Christ's victory is also the victory over death of those who believe in Christ. Christ, in other parts of Revelation, has done the fighting, but all get to enjoy the victory feast. The victor is a sacrificial lamb, who is victorious through suffering! This would certainly bolster the courage and resolve of persecuted Christians. Christians of the second century were likely experiencing persecution for their refusal to participate in pagan feasts. This passage says that a greater feast awaits Christians for their courage.

The angel, in verse 9, says “Happy are those invited to the wedding feast….” This passage does not indicate that the wedding celebration is only for Israel or other specific group. Rather, all who wish to join in the celebration seem to be invited, or at the very least are not excluded.

If we read one verse further (to verse 10), the author is enjoined by the angel to not worship the angel or to worship in mere imitation of the angel (an Old Testament understanding), but to join beside the angel in worshiping. Humans and the heavenly beings worship God together, in a single act. In the wedding feast, heaven and humanity meet. Certainly, in this way, the mass is an extension, a foretaste, of the eternal heavenly banquet. The mass is the most palpable way that God and humanity meet.

Homily Hints The bride shares in the bridegroom's victory. What one partner wins, has, owns, celebrates, also belongs to the spouse. One partner does not celebrate without the other joining in the celebration.

The CCC states that the marriage between man and woman is a sign and “foretaste” of the eternal union and joys enjoyed by the faithful in heaven. The marriage covenant calls to mind the covenant between God and humanity. The marriage recalls Christ's marriage to the Church.

The imagery from the passage is eucharistic. The eucharist makes Christ present. The husband and wife are both called to make Christ present to the other. In the marriage (as in the wedding celebration), one partner should help the other experience God's love and make the other want to praise God.

Imagine that it is not just the family and friends of the couple present to celebrate the marriage. Imagine that “heavenly assembly” shouting in celebration with “peals of thunder” is present for this celebration too!

Works Consulted  Boring, M. Eugene. Revelation. The Interpretation Series. Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1989.
Brown, Raymond E. An Introduction to the New Testament. New York: Doubleday, 1997.
Hahn, Scott. The Lamb's Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth. New York: Doubleday, 1999.
Revelation. The Navarre Bible. Dublin, Ireland: Four Courts Press, 1992.
Slater, Thomas B. Christ and Community: A Socio-Historical Study of the Christology of Revelation. Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement Series 178. Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999.

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© Copyright: Tom Richstatter, Franciscan Province of St. John the Baptist, Cincinnati Ohio, Order of Friars Minor. All Rights Reserved.  This page was created by Fr. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M.  Every effort has been, and is being made, to acknowledge sources when the ideas are not my own.  Any failure to comply with the United States Copyright Act (Title 17, United States Code) will be corrected immediately should I become aware of it.  This site was updated on 06/05/07 .  Your comments on this site are welcome at webmaster@tomrichstatter.org.