The homilist at our noon mass today says that Ephesians 5 is one scripture many priests hate to preach about, especially in this high-divorce society. But to understand what it means, you need to place it in context…Before St. Paul tells wives to be submissive (other translations say subordinate) to their husbands, he says “Be subordinate to one anotherout of reverence for Christ.” The apostle exhorts married Christians to a strong mutual love. Holding with Gn 2:24 that marriage is a divine institution (Eph 5:31), Paul sees Christian marriage as taking on a new meaning symbolic of the intimate relationship of love between Christ and the church. The wife should serve her husband in the same spirit as that of the church’s service to Christ (Eph 5:22, 24), and the husband should care for his wife with the devotion of Christ to the church (Eph 5:25–30). Paul gives to the Genesis passage its highest meaning in the light of the union of Christ and the church, of which Christlike loyalty and devotion in Christian marriage are a clear reflection (Eph 5:31–33).
Fr. Mitch Pacwa gives a wonderful homily on this text at http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/resolve.asp?audiofile=th_10302012.mp3