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What are We to Do with this Gift?

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In this verse we have yet another reason to give great thanks to God for the gift he has given us in Jesus Christ, a gift that has been passed on down to us through two millennia beginning with the Apostles, and especially through the special ministry of Paul. We Gentiles, we Christians today, are the beneficiaries of this great and glorious gift of faith. What are we to do with this gift?

The reason Paul writes this letter to the Church at Ephesus is to encourage them, to increase their confidence in faith, despite the fact that he is being held in prison. He is writing to them as a prisoner for Christ. He is reminding them that it was Jesus himself, who commissioned him to take the Good News of salvation to the Gentiles. He is reminding them that the divine plan includes them, that they too are the beneficiaries of all the benefits promised to Israel from the beginning.

Paul’s insight about preaching the Good News to the Gentiles came to him through a revelation, a personal revelation. He, Paul, was chosen, by Jesus himself, though he was not part of the inner circle of the original Twelve. Jesus called him, personally, to be his herald to those who were outside the original covenant. He is reminding the Ephesians that he was given this ministry by God’s grace. Paul knows, more than anyone else, how lowly he is. He had, after all, been one of the chief persecutors of the followers of Jesus. This is why he can say of himself, with righteous humility, that he is, “the very least of all the saints.” What a stunning gift it was then, that Jesus would call him to be the Apostle to the Gentiles.

We can imagine how encouraging these words would have been to the Ephesians. And that encouragement is not diminished when we hear it today. Paul is telling us that God’s love could not be contained. He is telling us that he was chosen by Jesus to be his ambassador to the Gentile world, to go beyond the confines of the house of Israel, to bring the good news of salvation to those outside, to welcome them into that house as God’s chosen children. We can feel here what it must feel like to an adopted child to suddenly realize that his or her parents chose him or her consciously and personally, out of love, to share the precious gift of their love with him or her unconditionally and purposefully.

Lord, we give you thanks for the great gift of faith that has come down to us through Paul and all your holy men and women who have taught and shared the faith since then. Help us to see and to receive the mystery of this great gift with humility, wonder, and awe. Make of us your ambassadors of the Good News of your forgiving love to those we live with and encounter every day of our lives. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen!

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