Sunday Vigil

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Ephesians 4,7-16

On each one of us God's favour has been bestowed in whatever way Christ allotted it. That is why it says: He went up to the heights, took captives, he gave gifts to humanity. When it says, 'he went up', it must mean that he had gone down to the deepest levels of the earth. The one who went down is none other than the one who went up above all the heavens to fill all things. And to some, his 'gift' was that they should be apostles; to some prophets; to some, evangelists; to some, pastors and teachers; to knit God's holy people together for the work of service to build up the Body of Christ, until we all reach unity in faith and knowledge of the Son of God and form the perfect Man, fully mature with the fullness of Christ himself. Then we shall no longer be children, or tossed one way and another, and carried hither and thither by every new gust of teaching, at the mercy of all the tricks people play and their unscrupulousness in deliberate deception. If we live by the truth and in love, we shall grow completely into Christ, who is the head by whom the whole Body is fitted and joined together, every joint adding its own strength, for each individual part to work according to its function. So the body grows until it has built itself up in love.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

If you believe, you will see the glory of God,
thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

After underlining the indispensable unity of the Church, Paul moves his attention to individual believers. He shows that unity does not mean flattening and uniformity. Paul writes that "each of us" receives a special gift to serve the community. Each one therefore has a responsibility towards the other and towards the entire community. This is the meaning of a Church that is not "clerical", but popular, that is, one in which all are responsible for the entire body, each according to the gifts received. No one should avoid the responsibility towards the entire body of the Church. The apostle, taking up the words of the psalm, "gave gifts to mortals" (Ps 68), lists some of the gifts that God gives to believers: there are the apostles, who are the foundation of the Church; then the prophets, that is men and women of the Spirit who make the Word live; then the evangelists who announce the Gospel; there are the pastors and teachers who are responsible for the pastoral guidance of the community and for teaching. And we could add many other gifts that the Lord from time to time never ceases to bestow on his children. All these gifts are given "to equip the saints (the community) for the work of ministry, for building up the Body of Christ." The task of charisms is therefore to "perfect" Christians, that is to make them suitable for building up the Body of Christ, which is "a dwelling place for God." In this work of service each one achieves the "perfect human being." Perfection, therefore, does not consist in the realization of self, but in the achievement of the stature of Christ. "We must no longer be children," the apostle says to Christians in Ephesus, that is immature people, tossed like a ship adrift at sea, or deceived by false teachers. The maturity of faith is to "speak the truth in love", that is in living the Gospel together with the whole community of disciples. To know is not sufficient, we need to love, that is to give our life for others. Love makes the truth shine and the Church grow.