Sunday, October 27, 2013

Fr Wells' Bulletin Inserts


The Epistle and Gospel readings appointed for this feast say nothing directly about the two apostles whom we are celebrating, but speak only in a general way of what it means to be an Apostle and by implication, what it means to be an apostolic church. But these selections are remarkable for the degree of contrast between them.

The Gospel reading from John 15 (words uttered in the upper room the night before our Lord’s arrest and crucifixion at a time when Simon and Jude were present), strikes a solemn note and hardly sounds like good news at all. Jesus tells us that His followers are in for a hard time. “If the world hate you … If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you.”  Christians have no right to expect to be popular.  Persecution is our normal state.  “The tyrant’s brandished steel, the  lion’s gory mane” did not come to a halt when the Roman emperor Constantine became a Christian.

We all should be aware of the cruel persecutions which Christians today suffer in Islamic countries. In one principal ally of the Unites States. Christian worship is prohibited and it is illegal even to own a Bible.  The sufferings of the Christian communities in Egypt, Iran and Iraq are well documented, even if barely known among Christians here.  But such persecution of Christians is far from unknown in our own country.

The reading from the Epistle to the Ephesians, however, tells the rest of the story. To be a Christian is a great privilege, even in a non-Christian world, even in a secular society, where our Lord is still held up to ridicule, and where the Gospel is the faith, it seems, of a shrinking minority.

Paul was speaking of us when he wrote “no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens of the saints, members of the household of God.”  In this great text,  Paul reminds us that we are no longer what we used to be, strangers and foreigners to the kingdom of God.  Our faith, our new birth, our incorporation into Christ make us true members of His body,

Has given us a special status which separates us from the sinful world in which we yet live. In this kingdom of God we are fellow-citizens with Abraham, Moses, David, Simon and Jude, Peter and Paul, with the blessed Mother, and all the rest. Paul and his first readers knew the value of citizenship. We are citizens of a kingdom greater than Rome or the USA, or any earthly kingdom.  But better than this, we have been adopted even into the royal family, the household of God Himself.    LKW

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