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A Priestly Word — 27 Jul 18

A Priestly Word

The Epistle on Sunday continues our reading of the Epistle to the Ephesians (3:14-21) wherein St Paul describes his prayer for those Ephesians whom he addresses in his letter. He prays that they may, with the rest of the church, grow in understanding of God’s plan of salvation in Christ.

God’s plan of salvation I have mentioned before as a major subject of the letter.

The plan, St Paul asserts, affects the entire universe with the “breadth and length and height and depth” (3:18) of God’s love in Christ or possibly the universe in each of its dimensions. He prays that they may perceive the redemptive love of Christ for them and thus be totally immersed in the fullness of God. St Paul ends the prayer with a doxology to God: “to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (3:21).

Also, I want to let you know that for the next five Sundays we shall leave the proclamation of Saint Mark’s Gospel for proclamations of Saint John 6 that include two important miracles (or signs) and discourses that elaborate especially the multiplication of the loaves. The other miracle is Jesus’ walking on the water. We return to Saint Mark on the first Sunday in September.

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A Priestly Word — 20 Jul 18

A Priestly Word

Sunday’s portion of the Epistle to the Ephesians (2:11-22) conveys St Paul’s stunning insight into the mission and purpose of Christ’s ministry and that of the church. Christ and the church broke down the wall separating Jews and Gentiles, reconciling “both groups to God in one body through the cross” (2:16) and giving both groups “access in one Spirit to the Father” (2:18).

Formerly, the Gentiles had “no hope” “without God in the world” (2:12). The Gentiles lacked Israel’s messianic expectation, the several covenants God made with Israel, and hope of salvation and knowledge of God. But through Christ all these divisions have been transcended by the abolition of the Mosaic law for the sake of uniting Jew and Gentile in a single religious community imbued with the same Holy Spirit and worshipping the same Father. The Gentiles are now included in God’s household as it arises from the foundation of the apostles and those endowed with prophetic power. With Christ as the “cornerstone” (2:20), Jews and Gentiles together are being built “into a holy temple in the Lord” (2:21). The Ephesians themselves are built spiritually in that temple, itself “a dwelling place for God” (2:22).

The implications of St Paul’s insight are enormous though in truth, however large they are, they themselves are but a part of God’s entire design or plan in Christ, announced to the shepherds, to deliver “on earth peace among those whom he favors” (St Luke 2:14).

A Priestly Word — 13 Jul 18

A Priestly Word

We begin on Sunday a journey through St Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians, the great epistle about the worldwide church whose head is Jesus Christ. This journey continues through August 26.

Certain early manuscripts omit the phrase in Ephesus from the first verse, and this omission raises the question of whether the epistle was addressed to a particular community of believers, where Paul ministered for well over two years, or was written for a broader, if not universal, audience. Certainly we believe that whenever we read any of the Scriptures in church that the reading applies to us as well as to all Christians.

A major theme of the epistle concerns the purpose of the worldwide church which is to be the instrument for making God’s plan of salvation known throughout the universe. God’s plan of salvation, shown most especially in Jesus Christ, flows from God’s saving love for all whom God created.

The portion of the epistle appointed for Sunday (1:3-14) refers repeatedly to God’s plan of salvation: “[h]e destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ” (1:5) and “[w]ith all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (1:8c-10) are prime examples of Paul’s emphasis on God’s plan of salvation.

Paul concludes Sunday’s portion, the opening of the epistle, by specifying that his readers, too, specifically were targeted in God’s sweeping plan of salvation: “In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance twoard redemption as God’s people, to the praise of his glory (1:13-14).

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