Daily Homily: Blessed Are Those Servants Whom the Master Finds Vigilant

Tuesday of the 29th Week in Ordinary Time, Year Two

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Ephesians 2:12-22
Psalm 85:9ab-10,11-12,13-14
Luke 12:35-38

In the Letter to the Ephesians, Paul tells us about the great things God has done for us through Jesus Christ. Through his sacrificial death and resurrection, Christ broke down the dividing wall of enmity between Jew and Gentile and reconciled them both to God and to one another, bring peace (12:13-16).

The Gentiles were, for a time, considered as outsiders, separated from God and his chosen people Israel (2:11-12). Paul lists five privileges of Israel from which his Gentile readers were previously excluded: first, Gentiles were without Christ – they lack the relationship with Israel’s Messiah that they now enjoy; second, they were alienated from the community of Israel and outside God’s chosen people; third, they were strangers to the covenants of promise; fourth, they were without hope since they did not know the blessing promised to Abraham and did not know the resurrection; lastly, they were without God (see P. Williamson, Ephesians, Baker Academic, 70).

All of this changes with Jesus Christ: those who were far off and strangers have now become near through the blood of Christ. Jesus brings and establishes peace, breaking down the wall of enmity between Jews and Gentiles, abolishing the old law and bringing it to fulfillment in the new law. The covenant relationship between God and his people does not depend on observance of the law of Moses, but is not founded on Jesus’ self-offering. Both Jews and Gentiles can share in this new covenant in Christ’s blood. Jesus’ death and resurrection inaugurates a new creation; through the Cross, we are reconciled to God in one body, the Church.

In the Gospel, Jesus teaches us how we are to live in the Church: he tells us to gird our loins and keep our lamps lit. For Saint Cyril of Alexandria, the girding of our loins signifies the readiness to work hard in every thing praiseworthy, while the lamp represents the alertness of the mind to repel any tendency to slumber off into the carelessness that leads to sin. For Saint Augustine, to gird one’s loins is to restrain lustful appetites, while to have lamps burning is to shine with good works. The first is about self-control, the second is about justice.

In the age of the Church, we await the return of Jesus the Bridegroom. He is present in the Church. in the Sacraments, and in us through grace, yet will return in glory. On that day, God will have his vigilant servants sit at table and he will serve us. Jesus did this at the Last Supper and does so now in the Eucharist. This is the greatness of the new covenant: we are reconciled with one another and with God, we have become brothers and sisters in Christ, we have become children of the Father, we have become friends of God and are introduced into his family. As Saint Paul says: we are members of the household of God and we are built together into a temple, into a dwelling place of God in the Holy Spirit.

Readers may contact Fr Jason Mitchell at mitchelljason2011@gmail.com.

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Jason Mitchell

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