Faith is a mystery, yet not mysterious. Wednesday, 29th Week in ordinary time – Ephesians 3:2-12
Chapter 2 and 3 of Ephesians constitute the central theological section of Ephesians and appeals to the unity of the Church. Galatians tells us of the sharp divide between Gentile Christians and the Jewish Christians in their approach to the practice of this infantile Christian faith. Ephesians speaks of the unity that we are called to in Christ.
These chapters, from the letter to the Ephesians, is reminder of the one who unites both Jews and Gentiles; namely Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:14 says, “he is our peace, in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is hostility, between us.”
Clearly, there are lessons that we can take away from this teaching . First, principle to the text is the primacy of the role of Christ. It is he and he alone that unites us. He is our peace! By our own efforts we ‘come to pieces.” Secondly, within the community of believers there can be no dividing walls. The church is one because those within it are joint recipients of the saving grace of God in Christ. Hence no group is better or greater than the other. No language, no tradition, no culture can create a one-upmanship in this unity that we are called to. But, one is bound to ask, ‘how then do we explain that Christians continue to experience disunity?’ Paul does not say that incorporation into Christ somehow erases the differences among men. However, such differences that do exist should not be the cause of alienations.
Unity is not uniformity. In bringing about peace Christ broke down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility that exists.( 2:14). While differences exist, the hostility has been taken away. In doing this Christ “ abolished ‘the law’ (the cause of the hostility) with its commandments and ordinances.” It was the slavish following of the 613 interpretations of the decalogue that had spiritually paralyzed the Jewish Christians and physically alienated the Gentile Christians. By abolishing the law and replacing it with the law of love, Christ has reconciled both groups (2:16) by creating a new humanity in himself (2:15) in place of the two groups. His action has brought peace; the focus once again is not on our desire or effort but Christs’ action.
Paul reminds us that he was commissioned to preach this Good news or as he calls it “this mystery (3:3). “In English a ‘mystery’ is something dark, obscure, secret, puzzling. What is ‘mysterious’ is inexplicable, even incomprehensible. The Greek word mysterion is different. Although still a ‘secret’, it is no longer closely guarded but open. More simply, mysterion is a truth formerly hidden from human knowledge or understanding but now disclosed by the revelation of God.” Here is something we need to understand about the mystery of faith that we profess and as Paul professed. We cannot ferret out an understanding of the mystery by use of reason or intuition. We can understand only when or if God chooses to open the door to our understanding. We can understand only if God makes known what otherwise would remain hidden and this he has done for us.