What is this inheritance? Am I part of it? It sounds great, but I want to know more. Paul’s words to the people of the church in Ephesus are actually packed with meaning:
“And now I commend you to God and to that gracious word of his that can build you up and give you the inheritance among all who are consecrated.” Acts 20:32
That Gracious Word
When Paul says, “that gracious word of his,” it is a hint of the first verses of the Gospel of John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (Jn. 1:1) “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.” (Jn 1:14) Could it be that the “word” he refers to is The Word, Jesus Christ? I think so.
Today’s Gospel is the prayer Jesus prayed just before his agony and death. It is a prayer for those who are his. It is a prayer for us who follow him. He prayed, “I gave them your word,” (Jn. 17:14) and that is exactly what he did – he gave us his very self, living with us, dying with us, and rising for us, so we could be with him eternally. This relationship He seeks with us is no joke. He came for this.
Paul continues, saying that the Word “can build you up.” John says that “What came to be through [the Word] was life” (Jn. 1:4) Jesus came to build us up, to give us life. The life he gives isn’t just a lifetime, but eternity. He wants me, he wants you, in his life, forever. So much so that he would die to make it happen.
Consecrated in Truth
This is what Paul is speaking of when he says that the word can “give you the inheritance among all who are consecrated.” (Acts 20:32) What does it mean to be “among all who are consecrated”? This seems to refer to baptism. The Catechism of the Catholic Church #1280 says “Baptism imprints on the soul an indelible spiritual sign, the character, which consecrates the baptized person for Christian worship.” According to the Oxford Dictionary, consecration means the action of making or declaring something sacred. Baptism does that!
On top of that, Jesus prayed for this:
“Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth.” (Jn. 17:17-18) He wants us sacred, set apart, in truth. What does that mean? John 1:14 says that Jesus, the Word, “is full of grace and truth.”
These last weeks we have been reading the chapters of Jn. 15-17, the last words, in a sense, of Jesus before he died. His message was all about remaining in him, so much so that we are one with him, one with the Father, and one with each other. This unity is the essence of the “truth” that I think he is referring to. Let us be one, in truth, worshiping our God with our lives, relying on his grace through our baptism and all the sacraments we have been given.