Welcome to the Cathedral Church of Saints Peter & Paul, Clifton.

Sunday 15th July 2018
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Amos 7: 12-15     Ephesians 1: 3-14     Mark 6: 7-13

Quite a Mystery.

Have you ever tried to read an architect’s blueprint? It could be for something very simple like a new garage, or something wildly complex like a new shopping centre. Either way, what you see is the masterplan that will create the masterpiece. By following the ideas laid out in print we will eventually get the building we want.

When St Paul talks about the plan that God had in mind when he created us and put us in the world, he calls it a ‘mystery’. This can be confusing for us, since ‘mystery’ usually makes us think of an unsolved puzzle, but Paul is not inviting us to be a Marple or a Poirot, because for him the mystery is something that has now been made clear: the mystery is God’s hidden plan, the blueprint God used to create his masterpiece. According to this plan, God made us and chose us to live in love. When our sin weakened this bond of love, God sent his only Son to show us how to live. Jesus was the pattern, the model or masterplan of God.

In writing to the people of Ephesus in Turkey, Paul recalls that Jesus was the visible blueprint of God’s eternal plan. If we want to know how to construct lives which are worth living, then God’s design can be found in Jesus. In fact St Paul felt so strongly about this that he wrote a hymn all about it (Ephesians 1: 3-10). He speaks about God letting us know “the mystery of his purpose”, which he calls a hidden plan to bring all creation together under Christ as head.

Of course there is a difference between the architect’s plans and God’s plan for us. With the architect’s plans every detail must be followed and determined in advance. There is no freedom to chop and change, otherwise the walls will not meet and the doors will not fit.

Although God knows the mystery of his purpose, although he knows what we need to do in order to get the most from life, he does not pre-programme us. We are not simply the nuts and bolts of his construction; we are his masterpieces. God gives us the freedom to accept or reject the plan which was revealed in Jesus. We are the living stones of God’s building and we can choose to take part or not.

It’s not surprising, then, that St Paul can hardly contain himself when he thinks of this mystery which has come to fulfilment in Jesus. His hymn trumpets praise to God: “Blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all the spiritual blessings of heaven in Christ!” After all, this masterplan of God is quite a mystery!




Scripture Reflections (below) © Peter J Harrison 2018