Friday, October 28, 2016

No Longer Strangers

By Colleen O’Sullivan

Brothers and sisters:  You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone.  Through him the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord; in him, you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.  (Ephesians 2:19-22)

Jesus went up to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God.  When day came, he called his disciples to himself, and from them, he chose Twelve, whom he also names Apostles.
(Luke 6:12-13)

The heavens are telling the glory of God,
And all creation is shouting for joy!
Come, dance in the forest, come, play in the field,
And sing, sing to the glory of the Lord!
(Canticle of the Sun, Marty Haugen)


No one likes to feel left out or ostracized.  We want to belong, to be part of things.  Think back to elementary school days when teams for everything from spelling bees to athletic games were formed.  Didn’t you sit there practically vibrating with anxiety until your name was called?  No one wanted to be the last person sitting at their desk.

Maybe that’s how the Gentiles in Ephesus felt, like the last people who would ever be welcomed into the Body of Christ.  Certainly, there was enough controversy in the early church over what it took to be a Christian.  Did a person have to follow Jewish dietary laws?  Did a man have to be circumcised?  We know how it turned out in the end, but for a while, I bet there were some Gentile Christians with hurt feelings pushed aside here and there.

However, the Gentiles in Ephesus were reassured by this letter.  You are absolutely not on the outside looking in.  You are just as much a part of God’s family as any other believer.  God loves you, and you are an integral part of this sacred temple, this dwelling place of God’s Spirit built on the foundations of the apostles and the prophets.  Join in singing and dancing for joy at the glory of our Lord!

12th c. altar frontal from La Seu d'Urgell or of the Apostles, CataloniaAnonymous, in the public domain, Wikimedia Commons

In today’s Gospel reading, we have Luke’s account of Jesus praying over who would be sent out in his name.  He had many disciples or followers.  But he also wanted to appoint apostles, the Twelve who would carry the Gospel to the rest of the world.   Today the Lord is still asking us to follow him and, at the same time, to spread his Word throughout our world.

The underpinning of the Good News we carry to others is that God loves each and every one of his children, and none of God’s sons and daughters should be on the outside looking in.  The Gospel is full of joy. 

The sad truth is the world is full of people on the outside – millions of refugees with nowhere to call home, homeless people on our streets as winter is approaching, lonely elderly people in nursing homes, men and women in prison.  Do something this week to make God’s love tangible to someone in need of it.

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