In today’s First Reading Paul continues to give advice to the Church at Ephesus on various categories of relationship, and today he focuses on the relationship between parents and children, as well as master and slave. It’s no surprise that Paul reminds children of the Commandment to honor their father and mother, but he adds that this is a source of blessing. This duty of honoring goes from the crib to eternity: as parents get older the roles often get reversed, and children should love and care for their parents with the same love and care that they received. This mutual love breaks down when the parents don’t treat their children as they should, which is why Paul also reminds parents not to lord their position over their children.
For slaves Paul encourages them to spiritually “transfer ownership” to Our Lord. Slavery is a great injustice, but in Paul’s time it was so prevalent that he didn’t see the need to question it. For Paul, we’re all slaves of the Lord anyway: he owns master and slave alike, and both answer to him, therefore neither is entitled to abuse the relationship they share. Slaves in Paul’s time could be freed as well, and even in then, as his other letter to Philemon shows, Paul’s hope was that believers would go from master and slave to brothers in the Lord, either spiritually or otherwise. Thankfully most of the world today doesn’t suffer the scourge of slavery, but we can follow Paul’s advice as employer or employee too.
Let’s ask Our Lord to help us today be a fair and loving parent, child, employer, or employee. Or all of the above.