Ephesians

  

 Chapter 2

12-22

 

Pope Francis     23.10.18   Holy Mass Santa Marta      Ephesians 2: 12-22

https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope-francis/mass-casa-santa-marta/2018-10/pope-francis-homily-daily-mass-hope-encounter-jesus.html


Hope,  is not something abstract. Hope instead means living in expectation of the concrete encounter with Jesus. And wisdom consists in being able to rejoice in the “little encounters of the life with Jesus."

The first Reading, taken from the Letter of St Paul to the Ephesians, speaks about citizenship: It is a gift that God has given us, making us citizens. It consists in having given us an identity, our identity papers, so to speak. God, in Jesus, has abolished the law (cf. 2:15) in order to reconcile us, putting that enmity to death by it, so that through Him both Jews and Gentiles might both have access in one Spirit to the Father — and so you are fellow citizens with the saints, in Jesus.

Our identity lies precisely in this, in being healed by the Lord, being built into a community and having the Holy Spirit within.

God is leading us on the journey toward the inheritance, secure in the knowledge that we are fellow citizens, and that God is with us. The inheritance, is that which we seek in our journey, that which we will receive in the end. But we need to seek it each day; and it is precisely hope which carries us forward in the journey toward that inheritance. Hope, is perhaps the smallest virtue, perhaps the most difficult to understand.

Faith, hope, and charity are one gift. Faith and charity are easy to understand. “But what is hope?”  It is hoping for heaven, hoping to encounter the Saints, eternal happiness. But what,is heaven for you?

Living in hope is journeying towards a reward, yes, toward a happiness that we do not have but we will have there. It is a difficult virtue to understand. It is a humble virtue, very humble. It is a virtue that never disappoints: if you hope, you will never be disappointed. Never, never. It is also a concrete virtue. “But how can it be concrete,” [you ask,] “if I don’t know heaven, or what awaits me there?” Hope, our inheritance which is hope directed towards something, is not an idea, it is not being in a good place… no. It is an encounter. Jesus always emphasizes this part of hope, this living in expectation, encountering

Something comes to mind, when I think of hope, an image: a pregnant woman, a woman expecting a child. She goes to the doctor, she sees the ultrasound. Is she indifferent? Does she say, “Oh look, a baby. Ok.” No! She rejoices! And every day she touches her belly to caress that child, in anticipation of that child, living in anticipation of that son. This image can help us understand what hope is: living for that encounter. That woman imagines what her son’s eyes will be like, what his smile will be like, whether he’ll be blonde or dark-haired… but she imagines meeting her son. She imagines meeting her son.

Do I hope like this, concretely, or is my hope a little dispersed, a little gnostic? Hope is concrete, it is an everyday thing, because it is an encounter. And every time we encounter Jesus in the Eucharist, in prayer, in the Gospel, in the poor, in the life of the community, every time we take another step toward this definitive encounter. This is the wisdom of knowing how to rejoice in the little encounters of daily life with Jesus, preparing for that definitive encounter.

The word “identity” refers to our having been made one community; and the inheritance is the strength of the Holy Spirit that carries us forward with hope. Ask yourselves how you live out your identity as Christians, whether you are expecting an inheritance in heaven that is somewhat abstract – or whether you are really hoping for an encounter with the Lord.

  

 Chapter 3

8-12, 14-19

 
https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope-francis/mass-casa-santa-marta/2018-06/pope-santa-marta-homily-love-god.html

It is not us who first loved God, it's the other way around: it is He who loved us first.

The prophets used the symbol of the almond blossom to explain this reality highlighting the fact that the almond blossom is the first to bloom in spring.

God is like that: he is always first. He's the first to wait for us, the first to love us, the first to help us.

However, it is not easy to understand
God's love as is narrated in the passage from today liturgical reading in which the Apostle Paul speaks of "preaching to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ.”

It is a love that cannot be understood. A love that surpasses all knowledge. It surpasses everything. The love of God is so great; a poet described it as a “bottomless sea without shores…” This is the love that we must try to understand, the love that we receive.

Throughout the history of salvation the Lord has revealed his love to us: He has been a great teacher.

God did not reveal his love through power but by loving His people, teaching them to walk, taking them in His arms, caring for them.

How does God manifest his love? With great works? No: He makes himself smaller and smaller with gestures of tenderness and goodness. He approaches His children and with his closeness He makes us understand the greatness of love.

God sent us His Son. He sent Him in the flesh and the Son humbled himself until death.

This, is the mystery of God's love: the greatest greatness expressed in the smallest smallness. This, allows us to understand Christianity.

Jesus teaches us the kind of attitude a Christian should have; it is all about carrying on God’s own work in your own small way: that is feeding the hungry, quenching the thirsty, visiting the sick and the prisoner.

Works of mercy, pave the path of love that Jesus teaches us in continuity with God’s great love for us!

We do not need great discourse on love, but men and women who know how to do these little things for Jesus, for the Father.

Our works of mercy, he said, are the continuity of this love.
  

 Chapter 3

14-21

 
https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope-francis/mass-casa-santa-marta/2018-10/pope-francis-homily-daily-mass-knowing-jesus.html

Who is Jesus Christ for you?  If someone asks us the question, “Who is Jesus Christ?”, we should say what we have learned: He is the Saviour of the world, the Son of the Father, which we recite in the Creed. But it is a little more difficult to answer the question of who Jesus Christ is “for me.” It is a question that can embarrass us a little bit, because in order to answer that question, I have to dig into my heart; that is, we have to begin from our own experience.

Saint Paul experienced precisely this uneasiness in bearing witness to Jesus Christ. He knew Jesus through his own experience of being thrown from his horse, when the Lord spoke to his heart. He didn’t begin to know Christ by studying theology, even if later he went to see how Jesus was proclaimed in Scripture.

Paul wants Christians to feel what he himself felt. In response to the question that we can put to Paul – “Paul, who is Christ for you?” – he spoke simply about his own experience: “He loved me, and gave Himself for me.” But he was involved with Christ who paid for him. And Paul wants every Christian – in this case, the Christians of Ephesus – to have this experience, to enter into this experience, to the point that each one can say, “He loved me, and gave Himself for me,” but to say it from their own personal experience.

Reciting the Creed can help us to know about Jesus. But in order to really know Him, as St Paul came to know Him, it is better to begin by acknowledging that we are sinners. This, is the first step. When Paul says that Jesus gave Himself for him, he is saying that He paid for him, and this comes out in all of his letters. And the first definition Paul gives of himself follows from this: He says he is a sinner, he admits that he persecuted Christians. He begins precisely by recognising that he was chosen through love, although he is a sinner.

The first step in knowing Christ, lies precisely in recognising that we are sinners. He said that in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we confess our sin – but, he noted, it is one thing to tell our sins, and another to recognise ourselves as sinners, capable of doing anything. St Paul had this experience of his own wretchedness, and recognised that he needed to be redeemed, recognised that he needed someone who would pay for his right to call himself a ‘son of God’: We are all sinners, but to say it, to feel it, we need the sacrifice of Christ.

But in order to know Jesus, there is also a second step: we get to know Him through contemplation and prayer.  ‘Lord, let me know You, and know myself.' We should not content ourselves with saying three or four good things about Jesus, because knowing Jesus is an adventure, but a serious adventure, not an adventure of a child, because the love of Jesus is without limits.

Paul says that He “is able to accomplish far more than all we can ask or imagine.” He has the power to do it. But we have to ask Him: “Lord, let me know you; so that when I talk about you, I am not repeating words like a parrot, but rather I am saying words born from my own experience. So that like Paul I can say: ‘He loved me, and gave Himself for me’ – and say it with conviction. This is our strength, this is our witness. Christians of words, we have many words; we too, so many words. And this is not sanctity. Sanctity is being Christians who work in life that which Jesus has taught and what Jesus has sown in our hearts.

The first step is knowing oneself: that we are sinners, sinners. Without this understanding, and without this interior confession – that I am a sinner – we cannot go forward. The second step is prayer to the Lord, who with His power makes us know this mystery of Jesus, which is the fire that He has brought upon the earth. It would be a good habit if every day, in every moment, we could say, “Lord, let me know You, and know myself."
  

  Chapter 4

1-6

 
Pope Francis           26.10.18    Holy Mass  Santa Marta            Ephesians 4: 1-6        Luke 12: 54-59
https://sites.google.com/site/francishomilies/conflict/26.10.18.jpg
 
St. Paul from the solitude of his imprisonment was writing to the Ephesians a true "hymn to unity", recalling the "dignity of vocation". Paul’s solitude would accompany him until his death in Rome, because Christians were “too busy” in their "internal struggles". And before Paul, Jesus Himself “asked for the grace of unity from the Father for all of us."

Yet, today we are "used to breathing the air of
conflict". Every day, on the TV and in newspapers, we hear about conflicts and wars "one after the other", "without peace, without unity”. Agreements made to stop conflicts are ignored, thus the arms race and preparation for war and destruction go ahead.

Even
world institutions created with the best of intentions for peace and unity, fail to come to an agreement because of a veto here and an interest there ... While they are struggling to arrive at peace agreements, children have no food, no school, no education and hospitals because the war has destroyed everything.

There is a tendency to destruction, war and
disunity in us. It is the tendency that the devil, the enemy and destroyer of humanity sows in our hearts. The Apostle teaches us that the journey of unity is, so to say, clad or “armoured' with the bond of peace. Peace, he said, leads to unity.

We who are used to
insulting and shouting at each other, need to make peace and unity among us with gentleness and patience

Christians open your hearts and make peace in the world taking the path of the “three little things” - "
humility, gentleness and patience". Paul's advice is “bear with one another in love". It’s not easy as there is always a judgement, a condemnation which leads to separation and distances

When a
rift is created between members of the family, the devil is happy with the start of war . The advice is then to bear with one another because we always have an excuse to be annoyed and impatient because we are all sinners with defects. St. Paul, inspired by Jesus at the Last Supper who urged for “one body and one spirit”, thus urges us to “preserve the unity of spirit through the bond of peace".

The next step is to see the horizon of peace with God, just as Jesus made us see the horizon of peace with prayer: “Father, may they be one, as You and I are one'. In today's Gospel of Luke Jesus advises us to strike an
agreement with our adversary along the way. It’s good advice, because "it is not difficult to come to an agreement at the beginning of a conflict.

The advice of Jesus is to
settle the matter and make peace at the beginning, which calls for humility, gentleness and patience. One can build peace throughout the world with these little things, which are the attitudes of Jesus who is humble, meek and forgives everything.

Today we, the world, our families and our society need peace. I invite Christians to start putting into practice humility, gentleness and patience saying this is the path to making peace and consolidating unity