For he is our peace; in his flesh he has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility wall between us.

Ephesians 2:12

In today’s Epistle reading St. Paul speaks about the unification of Jews and Gentiles brought about by the death of Christ.

Prior to Christ’s death Jews and Gentiles were separated from each other and the latter was not part of the covenant community. St. Paul sees Christ’s death as playing a significant and unique role in the reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles. Gentiles who were not part of the covenat, living without hope and separated from god were made part of the covenant throught the death of Christ and shared equally with Jews. Jesus’ death abolished whatever discrimination existed between Jews and Gentiles.

As a result of Christ’s death and the peace and reconciliation it brought, Jews are no longer the priviledged people of God. Their religion no longer confers any special status on them. Both Jews and Gentiles are one in Christ Jesus. The dividing wall has been broken down and the two races are both accepted in God’s household as members of one family.

The peace between Jews and Gentiles is conceived in terms of the breaking down of the dividing wall of hostility. That wall consisted of the Mosaic Law, circumcision, and diet regulations, Jewish social and cultural practices that defined Jewish life. Christ has broken down the dividing Mosaic Law that once separated the Jews from the Gentiles. In this new dispensation no one is excluded, all are included. St. Paul writes in today’s epistle: “So you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God.”

St. Paul informs us of God’s inclusive nature and makes the salient point that all people without distinction can be part of the redeemed community. Membership in God’s household in no longer based on race or works of the law but through faith and the grace of God. Gentiles are now part of the covenant not because something has been given to them but as a result of what God has done for them and the whole human race. Both Jews and gentiles are members of the new community brought about by the death of Christ.

Sometimes the dividing walls, which we consider to be sacred and untouchable, have to be broken down in order to achieve peace and establish unity. God loves all people equally; the dividing walls that discriminate against any one must be knocked down.

Today’s epistle informs us about our minstry. The Church, the New Israel of God must be an inclusive society that embraces all people. Within the Body of Christ, the redeemed community, we are all equal and no form of discrimination can be practised. Within the church’s membership there will be persons who come from different social and economic backgrounds; people of various races, colour, nationalities and social standing; but these differences do not and cannot define who we are in God’s household. Baptism which makes us members of the Church, knocks down the dividing walls and makes us one in Christ. St Paul writes to the Galatians:

As many of you as were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.

Galatinas 3:27-28

Baptism destroys and removes the distinctions that separate and divide us in the secular world. Our differences in the secular world leads to acts of injustice and discrimination, it is not so in the church. We are one in Christ.

Any branch of the Church that encourages or promotes prejudice of any kind is not worty of its name and compromises the integrity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Within our parish seetting there can be no dividing walls. If any exist they must be knocked down. Diving walls are the prerequite for a hostile environment.

The message of today’s epistle is also addressed to our society. It can be seen as a call to knock down the dividing walls that stand as a threat to national unity and peace. In our society we have the dividing walls of race, colour, gender, politics, religion, education, social class and many others. These walls foster disunity, stand as a hindrance to peaceful existence, create an environment of suspicion and mistrust and have a negative impact on national life.

One of the most serious dividing walls that needs to be knocked down in our society is the dividing wall of class. This wall permeates throughout our entire society and as a result many of our citizens experience class discrimiantion. The dividng wall of class in our society does not treat people on the basis of merit but privilege. In many instances the dividing wall of class defines who you are, determines what you will be and consigns you to your station in life.

The dividing wall of class is a social evil. This wall is self serving, acts selfishly, does not work for the common good, promotes individualism at the expense of the community, forms cliques and associations that seek to control and manipulate life in its interest. It is likely that the objections to the proposed water park, the football stadium, sites for garbage disposal and other national projects that are opposed by interest groups, are rooted in the dividing wall of class. One wonders what would be the reaction of these objectors if these projects were proposed for places like Bayville, Brittons Hill, Henry’s Lane and the districts that make up this ecclesiastical parish of St. Paul.

We also believe that the epistle speaks to our nation and the people of the region as we embark of the full establishment of the Caribbean Single Market. It invites us to knock down the dividing walls of insularity,  nationality, prejudice, fear, ignorance and mischief, that can prevent us from achieving our goals if they are not knocked down. We must be courageous and strong and knock down these walls that stand as a threat to regional unity. In this age of globalisation we cannot allow these walls to remain standing or we will be left behind and our region will be weighed in the balance and be found wanting.

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