Saturday, February 21, 2009

Ephesians 1:1b

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the holy ones who are (in Ephesus) faithful in Christ Jesus: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1:1)

Paul identifies himself as an apostle. The Greek word used here for apostle denotes someone called by another to an important work. Paul identifies God as the one who called him.

What was the work God called him to do? These passages to the Corinthians here and here might help us understand how Paul perceived his calling.

For the apostle Paul, as well as for Peter and the other New Testament writers, the mission of an apostle . . . indeed, the mission of a Christian . . . is to tell the lost they can be found, to tell the sick of the great physician, to tell the dying they can have eternal life, to tell the guilty and depressed and hopeless there is forgiveness, joy and hope available for them through Jesus Christ.

That is what the Lord meant when He commissioned the Church -- you and me, in chapter 28 of St. Matthew’s gospel, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age."

Regarding the missionary call upon each Christian, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

863 The whole Church is apostolic, in that she remains, through the successors of St. Peter and the other apostles, in communion of faith and life with her origin: and in that she is "sent out" into the whole world. All members of the Church share in this mission, though in various ways. "The Christian vocation is, of its nature, a vocation to the apostolate as well." Indeed, we call an apostolate "every activity of the Mystical Body" that aims "to spread the Kingdom of Christ over all the earth."

1268 The baptized have become "living stones" to be "built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood." By baptism they share in the priesthood of Christ, in his prophetic and royal mission. They are "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, that [they] may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called [them] out of darkness into his marvelous light." Baptism gives a share in the common priesthood of all believers.

1269 Having become a member of the Church, the person baptized belongs no longer to himself, but to him who died and rose for us. From now on, he is called to be subject to others, to serve them in the communion of the Church, and to "obey and submit" to the Church's leaders, holding them in respect and affection. Just as Baptism is the source of responsibilities and duties, the baptized person also enjoys rights within the Church: to receive the sacraments, to be nourished with the Word of God and to be sustained by the other spiritual helps of the Church.

1270 "Reborn as sons of God, [the baptized] must profess before men the faith they have received from God through the Church" and participate in the apostolic and missionary activity of the People of God.

We will return to the missionary call on the baptized in a moment. But to move on, we should focus our attention next on Paul's use of Jesus' name and title, Christ Jesus.

For the apostles, as well as for all Jews in the first century, a person's name meant more than a word that was used to identify a particular person. Children and adults were often named for their appearance, or the circumstances surrounding their birth, or (for example, Daniel and his three friends) their capture.

God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, meaning, father of many nations. God changed Sarai’s name to Sarah which means "noble lady." Daniel, whose name means, God is my Judge, and his three friends, Hananiah (which means, The grace of the Lord), Mishael (meaning, God who is strong) and Azariah (meaning, the Lord is a help) had their names changed by king Nebuchadnezzar to honor Babylonian Gods. Daniel was called Belteshazzar (the keeper of the hidden treasures of Bel); Shadrach—(The inspiration of the sun, which the Chaldeans worshipped); Meshach—(referring to the goddess Shach); Abed-nego (The servant of the shining fire).

The Lord Jesus supernaturally received His name. St. Matthew (1:21) tells us, "But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 'Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.' All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 'The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel' - which means, 'God with us.'"

Jesus’ Hebrew name, (Yeshua), means The Lord is Salvation.

Next time we will look at the Lord's title, Christ.

Questions for Reflection:

1. As Catholics, we understand it is the purview of the priest (or deacon) to baptize and to "preach." However, the Catechism reminds us that all baptized Christians are called by God to evangelize. Review the Catechism paragraphs above, and consider how are you fulfilling the purpose of God in your sphere of influence. How might you do a better job?
2. As we noted above, Yeshua means, The Lord is Salvation. Now read this passage in St. Luke, and the fuller text in Isaiah from which the Lord quoted. How does the passage in Isaiah reflect the Lord's work in your life and home? If you are not sure, ask the Holy Spirit to open your understanding to the answer.

No comments: