21 October 2008 Tuesday of the 29th Week in Ordinary Time
Ephesians 2, 12-22; Psalm 85
The first reading talks about the relationship between the Jews and the Gentiles. In the past the Gentiles has been excluded by the Jewish community. They had to part of the covenant relationship with God, and so did not share in the promises of God. That is why they were called citizens without hope, without God, without Christ. The Jews in fact called them by the epithet, “foreskin” since they entered God’s covenant through circumcision. But with Christ, those who were far away from hope has now belonged to Christ. Christ has now brought the Jews and Gentiles together.
The reading took up the theme of peace to show the unity between the Gentiles and the Jews in Christ. Christ who is shalom, peace affected the enmity between these two groups. Jesus did this by abolishing the law and prescriptions of the Jews that are divisive, and replaced them with a new law of love and reconciliation. Thus, in Christ, there is a creation of a new being. A being that seeks peace and unity, than a being that is exclusive and divisive. Thus, in the final verses of the readings, we see that the Gentiles, who were once ostracized, are no long outsiders but are fellow citizens in the Church, having equal rights with them. All are built up in a church founded by the prophets and the apostles. The responsorial psalm today sums it all, “The Lord speaks of peace to his people.”
St. Ignatius of Loyola tells us in the process of discernment, that the confirmation of the Lord is experienced as peace. It is when our hearts are aligned with the heart of the Lord. It is when our decisions jibe with the will of God. If we work for peace, we definitely are working for the Kingdom of God. Blessed are the peacemakers, the Lord said.
The challenge today is to be open to people. Many of us are comfortable with our set of friends. From an experience of a friend of mine, there are groups of people who believe that they should associate themselves with a certain group of people, because they can be influenced by them. I get the point. Indeed we can be influenced by our “bad company”. This, however, presupposes that the person is immature, unprincipled, and without a strong faith foundation.
When we run away from what people call “bad company”, we lose the chance to influenced them. Can we be strong enough to be more influential? If we are always within the same clutches of what we consider ‘holy people’ are we not making the same mistake as the Jews who thought they were the only ones who were chosen by God? Or are we openly admitting that our faith is weak against the forces of evil?
And if this is the case, then we cannot effect peace. We do not believe that we can bring those outside of the fold, into the loving arms of God.