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To: All

From: Ephesians 1:17-23

Thanksgiving. The Supremacy of Christ (Continuation)


[17] that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a spirit
of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, [18] having the eyes of your
hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called
you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, [19] and what
is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe, according to the
working of his great might [20] which he accomplished in Christ when he raised
him from the dead and made him sit at the right hand in the heavenly places, [21]
far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name
that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come; [22] and he
has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for
the church, [23] which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

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Commentary:

17. The God whom St Paul addresses is “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ”, that
is, the God who has revealed himself through Christ and to whom Jesus himself,
as man, prays and asks for help (cf. Lk 22:42). The same God as was described
in the Old Testament as “the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob” is now de-
fined as “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ”. He is the personal God recognized
by his relationship with Christ, his Son, who as mediator of the New Covenant ob-
tains from God the Father everything he asks for. This will be our own experience
too if we are united to Christ, for he promised that “if you ask anything of the
Father, he will give it to you in my name” (Jn 16:23; 15:16).

The founder of Opus Dei reminds us that “Jesus is the way, the mediator. In him
are all things; outside of him is nothing. In Christ, taught by him, we dare to call
Almighty God ‘our Father’: he who created heaven and earth is a loving Father”
(”Christ Is Passing By”, 91).

The Apostle also calls God “the Father of glory”. The glory of God means his
greatness, his power, the infinite richness of his personality, which when it is re-
vealed inspires man with awe. Already, in the history of Israel, God revealed him-
self through his saving actions in favor of his people. Asking God to glorify his
name is the same as asking him to show himself as our Savior and to give us his
gifts. But the greatest manifestation of God’s glory, of his power, was the raising
of Jesus from the dead, and the raising, with him, of the Christian (cf. Rom 6:4;
1 Cor 6:14). In this passage St Paul asks God “the Father of glory” to grant Chris-
tians supernatural wisdom to recognize the greatness of the blessings he has gi-
ven them through his Son; that is, to acknowledge that he is their Father and the
origin of glory. By asking for a “spirit of wisdom and revelation” the Apostle is see-
king special gifts—on the one hand, wisdom, that gift of the Holy Spirit which ena-
bles one to penetrate the mystery of God: “Who has learned thy counsel, unless
thou hast given wisdom and sent thy holy Spirit from on high?” (Wis 9:17). This
wisdom which the Church has been given (cf. Eph l:8) can be communicated to
Christians in a special way, as a special gift or charism of the Holy Spirit. The A-
postle also asks God to give them a spirit “of revelation”, that is, the grace of per-
sonal revelations, such as he himself (cf. 1 Cor 14:6) and other Christians (cf. 1
Cor 14:26) received. It is not a matter of revelation or recognition of new truths,
but rather of special light from the Holy Spirit so as to have a deeper appreciation
of the truth of faith, or of the will of God in a particular situation.

18-19. Along with this deeper knowledge of God, St Paul asks that Christians be
given a fuller and livelier hope, because God and hope are inseparable. He recog-
nizes the faith and charity of the faithful to whom he is writing (cf. 1:15); now he
wants hope to shine more brightly for them; he wants God to enlighten their
minds and make them realize the consequences of their election, their calling, to
be members of the holy people of God, the Church. Hope, therefore, is a gift from
God. “Hope is a supernatural virtue, infused by God into our soul, by which we de-
sire and expect eternal life, promised by God to his servants, and the mean ne-
cessary to obtain it” (”St Pius X Catechism”, 893).

The ground for hope lies in God’s love and power which have been manifested in
the resurrection of Christ. This same power is at work in the Christian. Because
God’s plan for our salvation is an eternal one, he who has called us will lead us
to an immortal life in heaven. The fact that God’s power is at work in us (cf. Rom
5:5) does not mean that we encounter no difficulties. St. Escriva reminds us that
“as we fight this battle, which will last until the day we die, we cannot exclude
the possibility that enemies both within and without may attack with violent force.
As if that were not enough, you may at times be assailed by the memory of your
own past errors, which may have been very many. I tell you now, in God’s name:
do not despair. Should this happen (it need not happen; nor will it usually happen),
then turn it into another motive for uniting yourself more closely to the Lord, for he
has chosen you as his child and he will not abandon you. He has allowed this
trial to befall you so as to have you love him the more and discover even more
clearly his constant protection and love” (”Friends of God”, 214).

20-21. The Apostle is in awe at the marvels which God’s power has worked in
Jesus Christ. He sees Christ as the source and model of our hope. “For, just as
Christ’s life is the model and exemplar of our holiness, so is the glory and exal-
tation of Christ the form and exemplar of our glory and exaltation” (St Thomas
Aquinas, “Commentary on Eph, ad. Ioc”.).

As elsewhere in the New Testament (cf. Acts 7:56; Heb 1:3; 1 Pet 3:22), the fact
that the risen Christ is seated “at the right hand” of the Father means that he
shares in God’s kingly authority. The Apostle is using a comparison with which
people of his time were very familiar — that of the emperor seated on his throne.
The throne has always been the symbol of supreme authority and power. Thus,
the “St Pius V Catechism” explains that being seated at the right hand “does not
imply position or posture of body, but expresses the firm and permanent posses-
sion of royal and supreme power and glory, which he received from the Father”
(I, 7, 3).

Christ’s pre-eminence is absolute: he is Lord of all creation, material as well as
spiritual, earthly as well as heavenly. “All rule and authority and power and do-
minion”: this refers to the angelic spirits (cf. note on Eph 3:10), whom the false
preachers were presenting as superior to Christ. St Paul argues against them:
Jesus Christ at his resurrection was raised by God above all created beings.

22-23. In previous letters St Paul described the Church as a body (cf. Rom 12:
4f; 1 Cor 12:12ff). Here, and in Colossians 1:18, he pursues this comparison and
says that it is the body of Christ, and that Christ is its head. He returns to this
teaching elsewhere in the Captivity Epistles (cf. Col 1:18; Eph 5:23f). The image
of body and head highlights the life-giving and salvific influence of Christ on the
Church, and at the same time emphasizes his supremacy over the Church (cf.
St. Thomas Aquinas, “Commentary on Eph, ad loc.”, and also the note on Col
1:18). This fact fills Christians with joy: by joining the Church through Baptism,
they have become truly members of our Lord’s body. “No, it is not pride”, Paul
VI says, “ nor arrogance nor obstinacy nor stupidity nor folly that makes us so
sure of being living, genuine members of Christ’s body, the authentic heirs of
his Gospel” (”Ecclesiam Suam”, 33).

This image also reveals Christ’s close union with his Church and his deep love
for her: “he loved her so much”, St John of Avila observes, “that although what
normally happens is that a person raises his arm to take a blow and protect his
head, this blessed Lord, who is the head, put himself forward to receive the blow
of divine justice, and died on the Cross to give life to his body, that is, us. And
after giving us life, through penance and the sacraments, he endows us, defends
and keeps us as something so very much his own, that he is not content with
calling us his servants, friends, brethren or children: the better to show his love
and render us honor, he gives us his name. For, by means of this ineffable union
of Christ the head with the Church his body, he and we are together called ‘Christ”’
(”Audi, Filia”, chap. 84).

The Apostle also describes the Church, the body of Christ (cf. 1 Cor 12:12) as
his “fullness” (cf. note on Col 1:19). What he means is that, through the Church,
Christ becomes present in and fills the entire universe and extends to it the fruits
of his redemptive activity. By being the vehicle which Christ uses to distribute his
grace to all, the Church is different from the Israel of the Old Testament: it is not
confined to a particular geographical location.

Because the Church has limitless grace, its call is addressed to all mankind: all
men are invited to attain salvation in Christ. “For many centuries now, the Church
has been spread throughout the world,” St. Escriva comments, “and it numbers
persons of all races and walks of life. But the universality of the Church does not
depend on its geographical extension, even though that is a visible sign and a mo-
tive of credibility. The Church was catholic already at Pentecost; it was born ca-
tholic from the wounded heart of Jesus, as a fire which the Holy Spirit enkindles
[...]. ‘We call it catholic’, writes St Cyril, ‘not only because it is spread throughout
the whole world, from one extreme to the other, but because in a universal way
and without defect it teaches all the dogmas which men ought to know, of both
the visible and the invisible, the celestial and the earthly. Likewise, because it
draws to true worship all types of men, those who govern and those who are ruled,
the learned and the ignorant. And finally, because it cures and makes healthy all
kinds of sins, whether of the soul or of the body, possessing in addition—by what-
ever name it may be called—all the forms of virtue, in deeds and in words and in
every kind of spiritual gift’ (”Catechesis”, 18, 23)” (”In Love with the Church”, 9).

All grace reaches the Church through Christ. The Second Vatican Council reminds
us: “He continually endows his body, that is, the Church, with gifts of ministries
through which, by his power, we serve each other unto salvation so that, carrying
out the truth in love, we may through all things grow into him who is our head”
(”Lumen Gentium”, 7). This is why St Paul calls the Church the “body” of Christ;
and it is in this sense that it is the “fullness” (”pleroma”) of Christ—not because it
in any way fills out or completes Christ but because it is filled with Christ, full of
Christ, forming a single body with him, a single spiritual organism, whose unifying
and life-giving principle is Christ, its head. This demonstrates Christ’s absolute su-
premacy; his unifying and life-giving influence extends from God to Christ, from
Christ to the Church, and from the Church to all men. It is he in fact who fills all
in all (cf. Eph 4:10; Col 1:17-19; 2:9f).

The fact that the Church is the body of Christ is a further reason why we should
love it and serve it. As Pope Pius XII wrote: “To ensure that this genuine and
whole-hearted love will reign in our hearts and grow every day, we must accustom
ourselves to see Christ himself in the Church. For it is indeed Christ who lives in
the Church, and through her teaches, governs and sanctifies; and it is also Christ
who manifests himself in manifold disguise in the various members of his society”
(”Mystici Corporis”, 43).

*********************************************************************************************
Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States


18 posted on 06/01/2011 9:54:50 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

From: Matthew 28:16-20

Appearance in Galilee. The Mission to the World


[16] Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus
had directed them. [17] And when they saw him they worshipped him; but some
doubted. [18] And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on
earth has been given to me. [19] Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
[20] teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with
you always, to the close of the age.”

*********************************************************************************************
Commentary:

16-20. This short passage, which brings to a close the Gospel of St Matthew,
is of great importance. Seeing the risen Christ, the disciples adore him, worship-
ping him as God. This shows that at last they are fully conscious of what, from
much earlier on, they felt in their heart and confessed by their words—that their
Master is the Messiah, the Son of God (cf. Mt 16:18; Jn 1:49). They are over-
come by amazement and joy at the wonder their eyes behold: it seems almost
impossible, were he not before their very eyes. Yet he is completely real, so
their fearful amazement gives way to adoration. The Master addresses them with
the majesty proper to God: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given
to me.” Omnipotence, an attribute belonging exclusively to God, belongs to him:
he is confirming the faith of his worshippers; and he is also telling them that the
authority which he is going to give them to equip them to carry out their mission
to the whole world, derives from his own divine authority.

On hearing him speak these words, we should bear in mind that the authority of
the Church, which is given it for the salvation of mankind, comes directly from
Jesus Christ, and that this authority, in the sphere of faith and morals, is above
any other authority on earth.

The Apostles present on this occasion, and after them their lawful successors,
receive the charge of teaching all nations what Jesus taught by word and work:
he is the only path that leads to God. The Church, and in it all Christian faithful,
have the duty to proclaim until the end of time, by word and example, the faith
that they have received. This mission belongs especially to the successors of
the Apostles, for on them devolves the power to teach with authority, “for, before
Christ ascended to his Father after his resurrection, he [...] entrusted them with
the mission and power to proclaim to mankind what they had heard, what they
had seen with their eyes, what they had looked upon and touched with their
hands, concerning the Word of Life (1 Jn 1: 1). He also entrusted them with the
mission and power to explain with authority what he had taught them, his words
and actions, his signs and commandments. And he gave them the Spirit to fulfill
their mission” (John Paul II, “Catechesi Tradendae”, 1). Therefore, the teachings
of the Pope and of the Bishops united to him should always be accepted by
everyone with assent and obedience.

Here Christ also passes on to the Apostles and their successors the power to
baptize, that is, to receive people into the Church, thereby opening up to them
the way to personal salvation.

The mission which the Church is definitively given here at the end of St Mat-
thew’s Gospel is one of continuing the work of Christ—teaching men and women
the truths concerning God and the duty incumbent on them to identify with these
truths, to make them their own by having constant recourse to the grace of the
sacraments. This mission will endure until the end of time and, to enable it to do
this work, the risen Christ promises to stay with the Church and never leave it.
When Sacred Scripture says that God is with someone, this means that that per-
son will be successful in everything he undertakes. Therefore, the Church, helped
in this way by the presence of its divine Founder, can be confident of never failing
to fulfill its mission down the centuries until the end of time.

*********************************************************************************************
Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.


19 posted on 06/01/2011 9:55:44 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies ]

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