Summary: Christ brings us together by saving us and uniting us all through communion in Him--to do good works.

Monday of 29th Week in Course

October 20, 2008

Children of Wrath to Children of God

The letter to the Ephesians is one of the masterworks of the New Testament, a product of Paul’s later ministry, probably written in his first Roman imprisonment. Paul has had over twenty years to reflect on the mystery of Christ, and here he sums up his theology in the idea that we who were far apart have been brought close together by our life in Christ.

Paul has just called the Church the body of Christ. The Church is the “fullness of him who fills all in all.” The Church is the completion of God’s work of salvation, begun in the garden with Adam and Eve, and definitively effected in the garden of the Resurrection. Through the work of the Church, new generations are to be saved from death and brought to life.

Our natural state is to be “sons of disobedience.” That’s a great carryover from the Hebrew original. It’s probably part of Paul’s preaching lexicon, because the Jews prided and pride themselves as being benai b’rith, sons of the covenant. Whether Gentile or Jew, we cannot of our own accord keep the great twin law of God–loving God and loving our neighbor. We are weighted down by our sinful nature, following “the desires of body and mind.” The result is that we are “children of wrath,” or “children of impulse.” We are enslaved to our passions.

But the next five words in Greek announce, like a trumpet fanfare, the divine 180: Theos, eimi, eleos, agapen, egapesen: God–the I am–mercy–family love–loving. Into the void of our weakened nature he pours out his grace through the action of the Anointed One, Jesus. He made us alive through the work of baptism, strengthened us by the anointing of confirmation, and continues to draw us to himself through this Eucharistic communion. And he raises us together and makes us sit together with Christ, and so with each other.

We who were far apart are now close as family. The challenge is that we, Christ’s workmanship, created for good works, actually do the good works, from taking care of each other to voting for godly candidates and devoting ourselves to the care of the poor and marginalized.

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