Commentary on the Gospel of
A lesson from Ephesus
"Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers" (Acts 20:28). The elders of the Church of God in Ephesus gathered in Miletus to hear Paul's farewell speech. The apostle spent with them around three years (52-55 AD) and he probably selected them as the shepherds of that community. And yet they were also chosen by the work of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 13:1-3). When Paul was with them all was well. Now, they are to manage on their own. Will they succeed?
Priestly formation usually lasts six years. During the formation process, a seminarian has an ample time to pray, to read and study, to meditate, namely to watch over himself. But then comes the moment of ordination and things change. While keeping watch over the flock many shepherds forget to keep watch over themselves. In no time, they become empty, discouraged, and dispirited. Praised at the beginning of their ministry for their dedication, inspiring teaching and preaching, they have less and less to offer with the passing years. Why? A shepherd who does not pray, who does not read beyond his Facebook messages, and who does not meditate over the Scriptures will lose himself and will be unable to lead the flock.
The Book of Revelation contains seven letters to seven churches in Asia Minor (Rev 2-3). The first church to be addressed is that of Ephesus (Rev 2:1-7). There is much to be admired in that church but the risen Lord has one complain: "Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first" (Rev 2:4). What happens when we forsake our first love? The ruins of Ephesus located in present day Turkey which its 99 percent Muslim population speak for itself.