…with Christ Jesus Himself as the capstone.
St. Paul, at the beginning of today’s First Reading, declares to the Ephesians: “You are no longer strangers and sojourners”. But St. Peter, in his first epistle, admonishes his disciples: “conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your sojourning” [1 Peter 1:17-21]. How should we understand this discrepancy? Were St. Paul and St. Peter speaking to different groups of disciples? Were their words about sojourning in reference to differing circumstances?
Another name for the Church Militant—which is to say, the Church on earth—is the Pilgrim Church. It’s important that we teach every disciple on earth to have this focus: namely, that we do not live for this world, even as we take our faith into the world. So on this feast of two holy apostles, what are we to make of St. Paul declaring, “You are no longer strangers and sojourners”?
In the second phrase of the first sentence, St. Paul makes his intent more clear. The first half of today’s First Reading is a single sentence: “You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the capstone.”
St. Paul is setting down before the Ephesians his vision of the Church’s nature: what we would call his “ecclesiology”. He’s preaching about the Church’s essence. Although we, like the Ephesians, are sojourning in faith each day, we also share now—by grace—in the eternal life that the Church Triumphant enjoys fully in Heaven. The role of the apostles—and in turn their successors, including the bishop of one’s own diocese—is to foster our faith, to fix our hearts and minds, and all our apostolates and ministries here on earth, upon the eternal life of Heaven.