Merry Christmas! If at this point you’re now seated at table, you may be looking around at the family and perhaps saying to yourself, “Here I belong.” or perhaps “What has God wrought?” or “Why me?” Whether you like it or not, you are a member of a family; the degrees of holiness and grace and love, well, all these are up to you, too. Merry Christmas!

Alternate to the list of the fruits of the Holy Spirit in Galatians, this list (twelve things) enables or grows the fruits. Put on these classical good things, and be thankful. Yes, even for your family, all gifts from God, it’s just that we don’t often know how to unwrap them. Sing together at least one Christmas carol.

The Church adds four more verses at the end, in parentheses, so that it is an optional longer reading. In our cultural, perhaps best left unread, as few are going to be able to get beyond the “wives be subordinate to your husbands.” In 2020, this is not going to fly in our society. The root verb in the imperative is more like “wives be aligned with your husband” or more clumsily in English, “wives be in the act of creating order with your husband.” The word in Greek has the sense of the orderliness of the universe and that life is good when we are aligned and in order with the cosmos. The men (husbands) are to be obedient to the woman; the word “love” is an odd translation for the original Greek. The word appears also in Paul in the opening to Romans in the phrase, “The obedience of faith.” In any event it seems more likely that Paul is describing a fundamental submission of everyone to God.

To go off in this direction is to distract from the whole first part of the reading and its appropriateness for Christmas and Holy Family.

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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