“You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
St. Paul continues his letter to the Ephesians today with an exhortation to holiness. What have we learned about our old lives?
We were taught to leave our old lives behind. Our old lives were corrupt, full of delusions of a false happiness. We thought that our happiness was in the things we desired. And we desired things that would never bring us joy. Maybe they brought us a temporary, fleeting happiness, but that happiness went away pretty quickly.
The funny part is that sometimes we give our kids, and our grandkids, things that bring us joy, but only a short lived happiness to them. Once the shiny newness wears off, the gift is quickly forgotten. They want the next thing to bring more happiness.
Not long ago, I saw an ad in an email from Sam’s Club for a beautiful blue BMW motorcycle that I knew Wyatt would just love. I had to get it for him! I should unsubscribe from that list!
But, I got the motorcycle, of course. And he loves it, so I’m happy. For now anyway!
We tend to spoil them, don’t we? It brings us joy to see that happiness on their faces, and we don’t want it to fade away. So we give more and more. Then it becomes expected, and the happiness can turn to irritation if they don’t get that next gift.
So in effect, we have this perpetual cycle of giving and receiving.
Of course now that we are older, we find that our Santa drives a big brown truck and he arrives with new stuff almost every week!
And none of those things that we got as children, and even that we get now, bring lasting happiness. If we think they will, the are the delusions of a false happiness.
St. Paul tells us that the Gentiles have become callous to true happiness, and so have given themselves up to licentiousness.
Licentiousness is giving yourself license to do whatever you want no matter how it affects others.
Remember that when St. Paul talks about the Gentiles, he means the unbelievers, those who do not know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. He says they are greedy to practice every kind of uncleanness, which means the things that the Lord has taught us to avoid.
If they did know Jesus, really and truly, they would know the happiness that lasts.
Do we know that happiness that lasts? I sometimes wonder about myself, too. I have to ask myself, am I chasing temporary happiness, or am I committed to knowing the joy of New Life in Jesus?
St. Paul said we need to be renewed in the spirit of our minds. In other words we need to stop thinking about the things that draw us toward worldliness, and think about the things that bring us closer to God.
We are to clothe ourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness, St. Paul wrote.
We are called to holiness, you and I. The Church, that is the Body of Christ, of which we are the members, and Jesus is the head, is called to be holy.
-And what are the four marks of the Church? One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic.
Holiness means we are the saints. We are set apart for the glory of God.
We did not choose him. He chose us.
We are very special to him. He loves us so very deeply. He is our heavenly Father who wants to give us the good gifts that bring lasting joy and peace.
Jesus said that it is our Father that gives us what we need, and that is the true bread from heaven.
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
We receive these gifts in the Holy Eucharist on Sunday, which is his Body and Blood. These are the gifts of life, not the temporary gifts that only satisfy for a short while, but the true gifts of life.
When we come and partake in this holy food and drink, we are clothing ourselves in the new self, that is one with the Spirit of Christ.
When we hear the Holy Scriptures being read, we are being renewed in the spirit of our minds, as St. Paul tells us, and we are reminded of the love and kindness of the Father.
When we worship the Lord together, we are strengthening that bond of love between ourselves, and with our Father.
This is the holiness we are called to; to eat the bread of life, to hear the word of the Lord, and to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. In return, the Lord offers us true love and joy and peace, and the promise of eternal life.
Let’s strive to live this holy life together, supporting each other, loving each other, and ultimately attaining everlasting life together. Amen.