In todays brief reading from Ephesians 2:19-22, St. Paul tells us who we are and who we are not.
As members of the body of Christ, we are no longer what we were.
What were we ?
xenoi-foreigner, strangers. It's the word from which we get xenophobia, the fear of foreigners. Because of original sin we all possess a sense of alienation, aloneness, isolation.
Secondly, we are not paraoikoi
oikos- is home. Para-near by, as in paramedic or paralegal.
Close but not quite home. Paraoikos- is often translated sojourner, a person who is never quite a home.
This is the ordinary human condition. But St. Paul tells us that if we live as people of faith we are no longer wandering foreigners.
What are we?
We are first of all sympolitis. sym- same politis-citizen. We are fellow-citizens. Fellow citizens with whom? We are fellow citizens with the Saints. We call it the communion of Saints in the Creed.
So first of all we go from being foreigners to fellow-citizens.
Lastly St. Paul tell us that we are oikeoi- members of the household, family, relatives.
We are no longer paraoikoi (the ones not quite at home). We are oikeoi, those people who live in the same home. Whose household are we part of? God's.
We go from being wanderers to people who are at home in the household of God.
In our baptism we are transformed from wandering homeless foreigners into full citizens and members of God's family.
That is our true identity. We may not always feel it, and through sin we can distance ourselves from the family. But we can always be reconciled, because our baptism leaves us forever changed. In the Catholic Church we call it the indelible character of the sacrament. It can never really be undone.
In this life there will always be times when our feelings lead us astray, when we feel isolated and alone. In those moments, we should recall this lesson that St. Paul gave to the Christians in Ephesus. Remember who we really are.