In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Christ is in our midst! [He is and shall be!]

We have, this morning, in our Epistle reading from St. Paul to the Church in Ephesus (Ephesians 2:14-22), a really beautiful description of what Christ, by His very existence, does to the human race, and by extension, to the entire cosmos. Paul begins this section of his epistle (just a few verses preceding where our reading began) by reminding the readers that historically speaking there was a great separation between the Jews and the Gentiles. The Jews were set apart as the chosen people of God; the Gentiles were outside of this group.

Paul then goes on to say that this gap between the chosen and the not-chosen has been closed, the separation abolished, in Christ. Now obviously, we really don’t think in terms of Jews and Gentiles today – but we do sometimes think in terms of Christian/non-Christian, or Orthodox/non-Orthodox. We still tend to divide humanity into various ‘groups,’ and we then approach each group in a different way. So, there’s still an enormous message for us to be reminded of in the Epistle today.

St. Paul doesn’t ease into his message – he begins by telling us that Christ, in His person, in His union of God and man – has abolished the enmity (antagonism) between God and man, and between man and man. “He has made us one,” St. Paul writes, “abolishing in His flesh the law of commandments and ordinances” (v 15). The Jews lived by the law; the Gentiles didn’t have the law – the ordinances (sacrifices) were also given to the Jews. These things are abolished* in the person of Jesus Christ. Nothing is to be separated any longer – we’re called to union with God, and union with one another. These are the two great commandments of Christ: love God, and love your brother. These two universal callings of God to man are accomplished only in Christ.

Christ is our peace, St. Paul writes – He is our source of peace personally in our lives, and He brings peace to the created order (between God/man and man/man). The beautiful words of verse 16 – “reconciling us to God in one body [all mankind in one body] through the Cross and slaying enmity.” Christ’s death on the Cross is the perfect sacrifice and reconciliation, demonstrating for us the extent of God’s love for us – we’re loved by our Lover (God) so deeply that He allowed us to murder Him (the death of God in the flesh) to show His undying love for man. As the Scripture says, the blood of Christ has reconciled God and man.

But this offering of True Life (life in God) is not to a specific group of people, the offer is extended to all. St. Paul writes, “[Christ] preached to all because through Him [all] have access by one Spirit unto the Father” (vv 17-18). This makes all of us, not just those of us in this building, and not just those who today profess a faith in Christ, Christ’s work makes all humankind fellow travelers on this earth. We all have the same calling; we’re all beckoned to the same final destination. We’re called to be “no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the Saints, and of the household of God…whose cornerstone is Christ” (v 19).

In the last few verses of the reading, St. Paul narrows the focus to those who choose Christ. He’s taught us for 7 verses what we’re called to – he finishes with a few verses dedicated to those who accept this calling to unite themselves to Christ. “Ye are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In Whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (vv 20-22). The Spirit of God comes to dwell in us, and is manifest to the world through us individually and through the Church.

This passage we thought on this morning is so filled with grace and power. We’re reminded of God’s love for us, and what that means for us. What God has done for us, and what He has called us to. “What is my response to God’s love for me, and His love for all mankind?” This is a powerful question to contemplate, brought to the surface this morning. And we’re reminded that all are called by God in love – salvation is offered to everyone. The love we’re called to have ‘for all mankind’ should rise up within us – we’re to prepare ourselves to be dwelling places of God, and we’re to call others to know this reality as well.

We’ll end with a pair of quotes that remind us how we as Christians are to relate to this reading from Ephesians.
-Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel always, and when necessary use words.”
Our lives are to be a testament to the reality that God has called all mankind to Himself.
-St. Seraphim of Sarov: “Acquire the spirit of peace [Christ is our peace, acquire Christ] and a thousand souls around you shall be saved.”

Glory to Jesus Christ! [Glory forever!]

AUDIO OF HOMILY

  • HERE
  • *Please do not understand this to result in a state of lawlessness – Christ also teaches that those who love Him will keep His commandments. There are still laws, still boundaries we are not to cross, but these statutes are the same now for everyone.

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