Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you. See, darkness covers the Earth, and thick clouds cover the people; but upon you the Lord shines, and over you appears His glory. Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance. Raise your eyes and look about; they all gather and come to you: your sons come from afar, and your daughters in the arms of their nurses.
Then you shall be radiant at what you see, your heart shall throb and overflow, for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you, the wealth of nations shall be brought to you. Caravans of camels shall fill you, dromedaries from Midian and Ephah; all from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense, and proclaiming the praises of the Lord.(P) The word of the Lord.
O God, with your judgement endow the king, and with your justice, the king's son; he shall govern your people with justice and your afflicted ones with judgment. (R)
Justice shall flower in his days, and profound peace, till the moon be no more. May he rule from sea to sea, and from the Rover to the ends of the Earth. (R)
The kings of Tarshish and the Isles shall offer gifts; the king of Arabia and Seba shall bring tribute. All kings shall pay him homage, all nations shall serve him. (R)
For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out, and the afflicted when he has no one to help him. He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor; the lives of the poor he shall save. (R)
Brothers and sisters: You have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for your benefit, namely, that the mystery was made known to me by revelation. It was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.(P) The word of the Lord.
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, "Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage." When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet: And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel". Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star's appearance. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage". After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.(P) The Gospel of the Lord.
Even though human civilization has gradually known numerous things, yet much about our life remains unknown. From the nature of the universe to the purpose of life, there are many things we still do not know. Sometimes we do not simply understand why certain things happen in life. We may have said so many times "I love you" to our significant others, family, and friends. And yet, we do not fully understand what love is. Even life itself is a great mystery. It seems that God has deliberately kept many secrets to Himself just as it is written in the Book of Deuteronomy, "The secret things belong to the Lord our God", Deuteronomy (29:29)
However, and in many ways, an air of mystery makes people more interested in it and God, knowing the desire of human beings, reveals some of His secrets to them. Especially to those who love God and serve Him faithfully is given the privilege of knowing many things of God that others do not know. Through His servant, the prophet Amos, God said, "The Lord God does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets", Amos (3:7).
The Apostle Paul, who regarded himself as one of those privileged few to whom God revealed a "mystery" that was previously hidden and entrusted the responsibility of making all people to witness and understand the mystery, describes the mystery in his letter to the Ephesians. In the text we read today he first refers to his call from God as the "stewardship of God's grace", Ephesians (3:2-3a, 5-6). Here, the word stewardship is used in the sense of dispensing. That is, Paul was given the stewardship of dispensing and distributing God's grace to all people, particularly "the mystery". We must note here that nothing is a mystery to God, since He knows all things, 1 John (3:20). The Lord planned Christ's redemptive work "before the foundation of the world", Ephesians (1:4); 2 Timothy (1:8-9).
Secondly, Paul points out that the mystery was "made known to him by revelation". Here, Paul never thought of himself as having discovered the mystery but rather considered it as something that God revealed to him. He felt it was given to him by God. That is, Paul did not learn about the mystery from the other apostles, who had heard it from Jesus but rather, by the same means as the apostles, he himself had received it - also directly from Jesus. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul vigorously defends the source of his message. He writes, "I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ", Galatians (1:12).
There are also other reasons to believe that Paul received the revelation directly from God. Paul was neither a follower of Jesus nor knew Him during His earthly life. Paul's conversion occurred on the road to Damascus, after Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. Following his conversion, he worked and preached in many of the synagogues in Damascus, Acts (9:19b-22) for a full three years before he ever met any of the Apostles, particularly Peter and James, in Jerusalem, where he stayed for fifteen days, Galatians (1:17-19); Acts (9:19-25).
Later, and only after eleven years, i.e., fourteen years after his conversion, had he met again with the apostles and elders of Jerusalem. Commenting on his meeting, Paul says "I presented to them the gospel which I preach among the gentiles and they added nothing to my message and recognized his gospel to the gentiles", Galatians (2:1-10). Thus, Paul was certain that he was taught personally by none other than the Lord Jesus Himself and he spoke with direct authority. In turn, the apostles were convinced of Paul's testimony and accepted Paul as an apostle, on equal terms with them.
Thirdly, Paul assures that this mystery "was not made known to the people in other generations as it has been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit", Ephesians (3:5). That is, he declares that the mystery of God, hidden in previous ages, was finally revealed through Jesus Christ to His apostles and the writers of the Scriptures, such as Luke and James and others who were not apostles, but were prophets. To Paul was also given the privilege of knowing this great mystery which he had to tell others.
After describing the mystery that God had given to him and the apostles, Paul finally declares what the mystery is: "That the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel", Ephesians (3:6). Here Paul was seeking to assure the Gentile Christians in Ephesus that they have been fully incorporated into the community of believers, the Body of Christ, and thus they are equal to the believing Jews and are also heirs in Christ. To be "coheirs in Christ" means to be included among those who share the inheritance that God gives to Christ.
What Christ inherits, all His believers inherit; they share Christ's glory and all the blessings that Jesus brings but they also share in His sufferings. To be "copartners in the promise of Christ" means to be those who receive the gift of the Holy Spirit as promised by Jesus, so that they would have the power to do impossible things and to teach with authority, John (14:15-17), Ephesians (1:13-14, Acts 1:8). The Apostle Paul saw this revelation of God through Jesus Christ as a new and marvellous way of God making Himself present with human beings so that they will live in hope in the middle of all the problems and pains in their lives and that they can ultimately defeat the devil.
What are the lessons we can learn from this text?
One of the beautiful things about Christianity is that we have been given the precious teachings of Jesus Christ or the mysteries of God through Jesus, in order that we may share them with others. But we must beware that if we keep it to ourselves, we will lose it, whilst if we share it, we will receive more, 1 Thessalonians (1:5-8), Matthew (13:19-21).(P) Amen.
God Bless You!