I was invited to give a reflection on Ephesians 2:12-22 today at an all school mid-day prayer service held in our chapel at Catholic Theological Union. It was a wonderful opportunity to ponder the word of God in the context of our community. Here’s what I shared:
As a Sister of St. Joseph of Peace, I was delighted when I was invited to offer a short reflection on this reading from Ephesians, in which the theme of peace is so strong.
“For he is our peace … He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.”
I can’t help but hear echoes of my religious community’s Constitutions, where we say:
“Christ is our peace, the source of our power. United with him we engage in the struggle against the reality of evil and continue the work of establishing God’s reign of justice and peace.”
Christ is our peace, calling us to unity. But if we look around, so much divides us. Dividing walls abound, some of them quite literal like the ones we build on our borders.
Christ is our peace, but WE must make that peace known in our world. In the words of Paul VI who was beatified in Rome just this past weekend: “If you want peace, work for justice.”
As I have been sitting with this reading these past few days, I have been struck by another line from Ephesians:
“So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners…”
In 2003, the Bishops of the United States and Mexico crossed the dividing wall between our nations, united as one Church, to reflect on the reality of immigration and the need for immigration justice.
They called their joint pastoral letter: “Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope.”
In the letter, the Bishops reflect on themes of migration and hospitality in Scripture:
- From Abraham and Sarah offering hospitality to three strangers, who were actually a manifestation of God
- To the edict to welcome the stranger, remembering Israel’s own exile in Egypt
- To the Holy Family’s own flight into Egypt
- To the reading we have today, of which the Bishops say:
“The triumph of grace in the Resurrection of Christ plants hope in the hearts of all believers and the Spirit works in the Church to unite all peoples of all races and cultures into the one family of God.”
Just look around our community here at CTU. Our students come from places that are far and places that are near. We come from places of relative peace and prosperity and places that have experienced deep division and heart wrenching violence.
We come to learn to be unifiers, reconcilers, bearers of mercy and builders of peace.
CTU is now even a place of hospitality, welcoming immigrant women and families in the Marie Joseph House of Hospitality across the street.
We have also been invited to participate in a practical work of mercy this week through a winter clothing drive for our immigrant brothers and sisters.
As the CTU community, we are no longer strangers and sojourners, but fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God.
May we be reconcilers in our families and communities.
May we welcome the stranger and work for justice.
May we seek, build, live, and bring peace.