Second Reading: Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6

Evangelization as a Vehicle for Grace

Popular Translation

2 All of you heard how I passed along God's favor to you. It was given to me for you. 3 As part of his favor, God told me about his mysterious plan.

5 In the past, God did not tell others about this plan. But now, he showed it to his apostles and prophets by the power of his Spirit. 6 So, people from all over the world will share the promise God made to the Israelites. They will all be members of Christ's body. And, because of the Good News, they will all look forward to the coming of Christ Jesus.

Literal Translation

2 If indeed you heard the stewardship of God's grace, the one having been given to me for you, 3 [that,] according to revelation, a mystery was made know to me ... 5 which, in other generations, was not made known to the sons of men, as now it was revealed to the holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit, 6 the nations to be fellow heirs, fellow body members, and fellow partakers of the promise in CHRIST JESUS through the Good News...

At the time this letter was written, Ephesus was a major seaport on the west coast of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). At the mouth of Cayster River, the city had a long history. Ionic Greeks settled the area in the tenth century B.C. Ephesus was controlled by different major powers as a gateway to the Aegean Sea. In 133 B.C., the Romans conquered the seaport and controlled the area for the next millennium.

Many biblical scholars have questioned the authorship of this letter to the city. The writing style and grammar of the letter did not match those of Paul's other writings. Ephesus was not mentioned in the salutation of the letter, unlike the Paul's other letters. And, one of Paul's major themes (the controversy over baptizing Gentiles into the community) seemed to be missing; the author spoke of a co-equal relationship between Jews and Gentiles (2:11-22). Many have speculated that the letter was written to a group of church communities in Asia Minor (Ephesus would have been the stand out), by one of Paul's disciples in 80-90 A.D. Since the ancient people had no sense of copyright laws and a critical view of history, writing in the name and spirit of a known teacher was not uncommon at the time.

Chapter 3 focused upon Paul's role as the herald for God's revelation. God revealed a divine mystery to Paul and gave him a mission to share that mystery with others. The mystery was God's plan of salvation. In hindsight, Paul could see the unfolding revelation peak in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Paul shared his mission to evangelize with others (apostles and Christian prophets). The power that drove these men was God's very Spirit. As a result, Gentiles shared in the promise made to the Jews by God (co-heirs), they sat as equals at the table of the Lord with their Jewish brethren, and they shared the same hope in the coming of the Messiah. The Good News (a vehicle of God's "grace") was the means for faith.

We evangelize others through our words and example. But have you ever considered evangelization as a vehicle for God's grace? After all, like St. Paul, our words and actions present the face of Christ to others. They reveal God's activity in the world. And they invite others to join us to the Christian life.

How have your words and actions presented Christ to others this week? Explain.