(Scripture Reflection Ephesians 6:5)"Slaves, obey your human masters with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart as to Christ"
St Paul’s advice to wives and husbands – today’s continuation of Ephesians has troubled many. Historically, Paul’s words have been misused to justify slavery and male dominance. He seems to accept the unjust social structures of his time, and to bat for the oppressor.
However, his intent is different. He does not advise slaves to fight for emancipation, but he does advise masters to remember they and their slaves ‘have the same Master’ (v. 9). Paul advises his friend to treat his slave ‘no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a beloved brother’ (Philem 16). What Paul does for the slave (as for the hapless wife) is to offer a spiritual coping skill: to let love transform a flawed equation.
Render service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord’ (Eph 6:7). From corporate slaves to overworked mothers or pastors, we can all use this advice.
The Gospel turns our eyes away from statistics (Lk 13:23) to focus on Jesus, who himself is our way, our “gate” (Jn 10:9) to complete love and freedom. The way of faith in Jesus is indeed ‘narrow’ or difficult. Among the top challenges are: believing in a God we cannot see, humbly acknowledging we are sinners in need of his mercy, persevering in the love of neighbour. Lip service simply will not do: “Go away from me...!” (Lk 13:27).
Fruit: Are we Christ’s disciples or nominal Christians in whom he sees no reflection of himself?