16th Sunday in Ordinary time; Year B
Brothers and sisters: In Christ Jesus you who once were far off have become near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, he who made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh, abolishing the Law with its commandments and legal claims, that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile both with God, in one body, through the cross, putting that enmity to death by it. He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
For this Sunday’s 2nd Reading – it is helpful to remember that St. Paul was a Jew speaking, primarily, to non-Jews. He was one of the original ‘people of God’, the people descended from Abraham and with whom the Lord made His original Covenant.
So the time before Christ came there were Jews (who were God’s Chosen People) and non-Jews (who were not), and when we hear from or read the Old Testment, we are hearing God speaking or interacting with the Jewish People. In the time of Moses, God set the Jewis people leaving Egypt apart by giving them rules and laws – covered in the Books of Exodus, Deuteronomy and Leviticus – which set them apart from their neigbours.
But for us – or at least most of us – we are not ethnicly Jewish. We are not, by viture of our birth alone, inheriters of God’s promise of redemption. This is what Paul is meaning when he writes to the Ephesians as people who “…once were far off have become near by the blood of Christ“.
This is done by God himself, in Christ. By his death he “…abolish[ed] the Law with its commandments and legal claims, that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two”. He completes the story of Humanity’s salvastion and so the Jewish People no longer act as a sign to the nations, but can join with them in sharing the message. This is becuase Christ came to “[abolish] the Law with its commandments and legal claims, that he might create in himself one new person”. That we no longer require to rely on outwards signes to show we are part of God’s people – as all can now be redeemed through Christ.