Reflecting on Ephesians for the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

From Ephesians by Peter S. Williamson, reflecting on Ephesians 4:20-24:

Paul is reminding his readers about baptism, which the Catechism describes as “the principal place for the first and fundamental conversion” (1427). But since most Catholics were baptized as infants, before they had the ability to make a personal response of faith and repentance, Paul’s teaching applies differently today than it did to his original readers. Ideally, Christians baptized as babies receive preaching and teaching about Christ from their earliest days and turn to the Lord as children. Ideally, their families and parishes prepare them well for the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, and confirmation, and they continue on this path into adulthood, growing in their understanding of their faith and progressing in holiness and ongoing conversion (Catechism 1428–29).

But often it does not work this way. Some receive little or no Christian formation as children; others receive it, but cease to practice their faith along theway, succumbing to the influence of the surrounding non-Christian culture. These baptized but unconverted Catholics need to be evangelized in order to experience the grace of the sacraments they have received. They need to be introduced (or reintroduced) to the person of Jesus Christ through a proclamation (kerygma) of the good news in the power of the Holy Spirit, accompaniedby the testimony of those who already believe. Only when they (re)discover the truth that is in Jesus (4:21), believe, and decide to turn from sin will they be able to benefit fully from catechesis about prayer, doctrine, the sacraments, and the moral life (the major themes of the Catechism). Only then will the divine life received in baptism be able to flourish and grow through a renewal in the spirit of their minds (4:23).

© 2009 Peter S. Williamson and Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

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