Speak Lord: Of freedom and peace

St PaulThe Second reading on Sunday, the 17th of Ordinary Time, is the latest in the series of readings from St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, which we have been hearing at Sunday Mass.

From his prison in Rome, Paul writes:

I, the prisoner in the Lord, implore you to lead a life worthy of your vocation. Bear with one another charitably, in complete selflessness, gentleness and patience. Do all you can to preserve the unity of the Spirit by the peace that binds you together. There is one Body, one Spirit, just as you were all called into one and the same hope when you were called. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God who is Father of all, over all, through all and within all.

Ephesians 4:1-6

There is an irony in the first phrase above. As noted above, Paul writes from prison in Rome, where he has been brought for trial at the request of fellow Jews because of his teaching about Jesus and the controversy and turmoil this has brought about, cf Acts 21ff. But in a deeper sense, under arrest or not, Paul is prisoner in the Lord, ‘slave’ to him, entirely available to fulfil the will of the Master. Yet in his imprisonment, and his enslavement, he has complete freedom.

And he urges the Ephesians, and us to live our freedom in Christ. To find in Christ and each other confidence, love and hope.

He knows from his own situation, and his knowledge of Ephesus (and of all peoples everywhere!) that this is not easy and cannot be taken for granted. It requires work. But if we build on the foundation of the one God, Father, Son and Spirit , of the one faith, and one baptism, it is possible.

  • What threatens your freedom in Christ?
  • What positive actions can you take to counter those challenges?
  • How might you help others?

St Paul. Churchyard of St Paul’s Cathedral, London. (c) 2006, Allen Morris.

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