From: Ephesians 1:3-14
Hymn of Praise
 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed
us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,  even as he
chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and
blameless before him.  He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus
Christ, according to the purpose of his will,  to the praise of his glorious grace
which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.  In him we have redemption
through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of
his grace  which he lavished upon us.  For he had made known to us in
all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which
he set forth in Christ  a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in
him, things in heaven and things on earth.
 In him, according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things accor-
ding to the counsel of his will,  we who first hoped in Christ have been des-
tined and appointed to live for the praise of his glory.  In him you also, who
have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in
him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,  who is the guarantee of
our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
3-14. Verses 3-14 are a hymn of praise to God for the plan of salvation he has
devised and brought to fulfillment in benefit of men and all creation. It is written
in a liturgical style of rhythmic prose, similar to that in Colossians 1:15-20. In
the Greek it is one long complex sentence full of relative pronouns and clauses
which give it a designed unity; we can, however, distinguish two main sections.
The first (v. 3-10), divided into four stanzas, describes the blessings contained
in God’s salvific plan; St Paul terms this plan the “mystery” of God’s will. The
section begins by praising God for his eternal design, a plan, pre-dating creation,
to call us to the Church, to form a community of saints (first stanza: vv. 3f) and
receive the grace of being children of God through Jesus Christ (second stanza:
vv. 5f). It then reflects on Christ’s work of redemption which brings this eternal
plan of God to fulfillment (third stanza: vv. 7f). This section reaches its climax in
the fourth stanza (vv. 9f) which proclaims Christ as Lord of all creation, thereby
revealing the full development of God’s salvific plan.
The second section, which divides into two stanzas, deals with the application
of this plan—first to the Jews (fifth stanza: vv. 11f) and then to the Gentiles, who
are also called to share what God has promised: Jews and Gentiles join to form
a single people, the Church (sixth stanza: vv. 13f).
Hymns in praise of God, or “eulogies”, occur in many parts of Sacred Scripture
(cf. Ps 8; Ps 19; Dan 2:20-23; Lk 1:46-54, 68-78; etc.); they praise the Lord for
the wonders of creation or for spectacular interventions on behalf of his people.
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, St Paul here praises God the Father for all Christ’s
saving work, which extends from God’s original plan which he made before he
created the world, right up to the very end of time and the recapitulation of all
things in Christ.
We too should always have this same attitude of praise of the Lord. “Our entire
life on earth should take the form of praise of God, for the never-ending joy of our
future life consists in praising God, and no one can become fit for that future life
unless he train himself to render that praise now” (St Augustine, “Enarrationes
in Psalmos”, 148).
Praise is in fact the most appropriate attitude for man to have towards God:
“How can you dare use that spark of divine intelligence—your mind—in anything
but in giving glory to your Lord?” (St. J. Escriva, “The Way”, 782).
3. St Paul blesses God as Father of our Lord Jesus Christ because it is through
Christ that all God’s blessings and gifts reach us. God’s actions in favor of man
are actions of all three divine Persons; the divine plan which the Apostle consi-
ders here has its origin in the Blessed Trinity; it is eternal. “These three Persons
are not to be considered separable,” the Eleventh Council of Toledo teaches,
“since we believe that not one of them existed or at any time effected anything
before the other, after the other, or without the other. For in existence and ope-
ration they are found to be inseparable” (”De Trinitate” Creed, “Dz-Sch”, 531).
In the implementation of this divine plan of salvation, the work of Redemption is
attributed to the Son and that of sanctification to the Holy Spirit. “To help us
grasp in some measure this unfathomable mystery, we might imagine the Bles-
sed Trinity taking counsel together in their uninterrupted intimate relationship of
nfinite love. As a result of their eternal decision, the only-begotten Son of God
the Father takes on our human condition and bears the burden of our wretched-
ness and sorrows, to end up sewn with nails to a piece of wood” (St. J. Escriva,
“Christ Is Passing By”, 95).
St Paul describes as “spiritual blessings” all the gifts which the implementation
of God’s plan implies, gifts which are distributed by the Holy Spirit. When he
speaks of them as being “in the heavenly places” and “in Christ”, he is saying
that through Christ who has risen from the dead and ascended on high we too
have been inserted into the world of God (cf. 1:20; 2:6).
When man describes God as “blessed it means he recognizes God’s greatness
and goodness, and rejoices over the divine gifts he has received (cf. Lk 1:46, 68).
Here is what St Thomas Aquinas has to say about the meaning of this passage:
“The Apostle says, ‘Benedictus’ [Blessed be the God ...], that is, may I, and you,
and everyone bless him, with our heart, our mouth, our actions—praising him as
God and as Father, for he is God because of his essence and Father because
of his power to generate” (”Commentary on Eph.”, 1, 6).
Sacred Scripture very often invites us to praise God our Lord (cf. Ps 8:19; 33;
46-48; etc.); this is not a matter only of verbal praise: our actions should prove
that we mean what we say: “He who does good with his hands praises the Lord,
and he who confesses the Lord with his mouth praises the Lord. Praise him by
your actions” (St Augustine, “Enarrationes in Psalmos”, 91, 2).
4. As the hymn develops, the Apostle details each of the blessings contained in
God’s eternal plan. The first of these is his choice, before the foundation of the
world, of those who would become part of the Church. The word he uses, trans-
lated here as “chose”, is the same one as used in the Greek translation of the
Old Testament to refer to God’s election of Israel. The Church, the new people
of God, is constituted by assembling in and around Christ those who have been
chosen and called to holiness. This implies that although the Church was foun-
ded by Christ at a particular point in history, its origin goes right back to the
eternal divine plan. ‘The eternal Father, in accordance with the utterly gratuitous
and mysterious design of his wisdom and goodness, ... ‘predestined (the elect)
to be conformed to the image of his Son in order that he might be the first-born
among many brethren’ (Rom 8:29). He determined to call together in a holy
Church those who believe in Christ. Already present in figure at the beginning
of the world, this Church was prepared in marvelous fashion in the history of the
people of Israel and in the Old Alliance. Established in this last age of the world,
and made manifest in the outpouring of the Spirit, it will be brought to glorious
completion at the end of time” (Vatican II, “Lumen Gentium”, 2).
God’s choice seeks to have us become “holy and blameless before him”. In the
same way as in the Old Testament a victim offered to God had to be unblemished,
blameless (cf. Gen 17:1), the blameless holiness to which God has destined us
admits of no imperfection. By the very fact of being baptized we are made holy
(cf. note on 1: 1), and during our lifetime we try to grow holier with the help of
God; however, complete holiness is something we shall attain only in heaven.
The holiness with which we have been endowed is an undeserved gift from God:
it is not a reward for any merit on our part: even before we were created God
chose us to be his: “’He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that
we should be holy.’ I know that such thoughts don’t fill you with pride or lead you
to think yourself better than others. That choice, the root of your vocation, should
be the basis of your humility. Do we build monuments to an artist’s paintbrush?
Granted the brush had a part in creating masterpieces, but we give credit only to
the painter. We Christians are nothing more than instruments in the hands of the
Creator of the world, the Redeemer of all men” (St. J. Escriva, “Christ Is Passing
“He destined us in love”: the loving initiative is God’s. “If God has honored us with
countless gifts it is thanks to his love, not to our merits. Our fervor, our strength,
our faith and our unity are the fruit of God’s benevolence and our response to his
goodness” (St John Chrysostom, “Hom. on Eph, ad loc”.).
God’s election of Christians and their vocation to holiness, as also the gift of di-
vine filiation, reveals that God is Love (cf. 1 Jn 4:8); we have become partakers
of God’s very nature (cf. 2 Pet 1:4), sharers, that is, in the love of God.
“He destined us in love”, therefore, also includes the Christian’s love of God and
of others: charity is a sharing in God’s own love; it is the essence of holiness,
the Christian’s law; nothing has any value if it is not inspired by charity (cf. 1 Cor
5. The Apostle goes on to explore the further implications of God’s eternal plan:
those chosen to form part of the Church have been given a second blessing, as
it were, by being predestined to be adoptive children of God. ‘The state of this
people is that of the dignity and freedom of the sons of God, in whose hearts the
Holy Spirit dwells as in a temple” (Vatican II, “Lumen Gentium, 9).
This predestination to which the Apostle refers means that God determined from
all eternity that the members of the new people of God should attain holiness
through his gift of adoptive sonship. It is God’s desire that all be saved (cf. 1 Tim
2:4) and he gives each person the means necessary for obtaining eternal life.
Therefore, no one is predestined to damnation (cf. Third Council of Valence, “De
Praedestinatione”, can. 3).
The source of the Christian’s divine sonship is Jesus Christ. God’s only Son,
one in substance with the Father, took on human nature in order to make us
sons and daughters of God by adoption (cf. Rom 8:15, 29; 9:4; Gal 4:5). This is
why every member of the Church can say: “See what love the Father has given
us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 Jn 3:1).
What is involved here is not simply formal adoption, which is something external
and does not affect the very person of the child. Divine adoption affects man’s
entire being, it inserts him into God’s own life; for Baptism makes us truly his
children, partakers of the divine nature (cf. 2 Pet 1:4). Divine sonship is therefore
the greatest of the gifts God bestows on man during his life on earth. It is indeed
right to exclaim “Blessed be God” (v. 3) when one reflects on this great gift: it is
right for children openly to acknowledge their father and show their love for him.
Divine filiation has many rich effects as far as the spiritual life is concerned. “A
child of God treats the Lord as his Father. He is not obsequious and servile; he
‘is not merely formal and well-mannered: he is completely sincere and trusting.
God is not shocked by what we do. Our infidelities do not wear him out. Our
Father in heaven pardons any offense when his child returns to him, when he
repents and asks for pardon. The Lord is such a good father that he anticipates
our desire to be pardoned and comes forward to us, opening his arms laden with
grace” (St. J. Escriva, “Christ Is Passing By”, 64). See the notes on Jn 1:12.
6. The gift of divine filiation is the greatest expression of the glory of God (ef. note
on 1:17 below), because it reveals the full extent of God’s love for man. St Paul
stresses what the purpose of this eternal divine plan is-to promote “the praise of
his glorious grace”. God’s glory has been made manifest through his merciful love,
which has led him to make us his children in accordance with the eternal purpose
of his will. This eternal design “flows from ‘fountain-like love’, the love of God the
Father [...]. God in his great and merciful kindness freely creates us and, more-
over, graciously calls us to share in his life and glory. He generously pours out,
and never ceases to pour out, his divine goodness, so that he who is Creator of
all things might at last become ‘everything to everyone’ (1 Cor 15:28), thus simul-
taneously assuring his own glory and our happiness” (Vatican II, “Ad Gentes”, 2).
The grace which St Paul speaks of here and which manifests the glory of God
refers first to the fact that God’s blessings are totally unmerited by us and in-
clude the grace-conferring gifts of holiness and divine filiation.
“In the Beloved”: the Old Testament stresses again and again that God loves his
people and that Israel is that cherished people (cf. Deut 33:12; is 5:1, 7; 1 Mac
6:11; etc.). In the New Testament Christians are called “beloved by God” (1 Thess
1:4; cf. Col 3:12). However, there is only one “Beloved”, strictly speaking, Jesus
Christ our Lord—as God revealed from the bright cloud at the Transfiguration: “This
is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Mt 17:5). The Son of his love
has obtained man’s redemption and brought forgiveness of sins (cf. Col 1:13ff),
and it is through his grace that we become pleasing to God, lovable by him with
the same love with which he loves his Son. At the Last Supper, Jesus asked his
Father for this very thing—”so that the world may know that thou hast sent me
and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me” (Jn 17:23). “Notice”, St John
Chrysostom points out, “that Paul does not say that this grace has been given
us for no purpose but that it has been given us to make us pleasing and lovable
in his eyes, now that we are purified of our sins” (”Hom. on Eph, ad loc.”).
7-8. St Paul now centers his attention on the redemptive work of Christ—the third
blessing—which has implemented the eternal divine plan described in the prece-
Redemption means “setting free”. God’s redemptive action began in the Old Tes-
tament, when he set the people of Israel free from their enslavement in Egypt (cf.
Ex 11:7ff): by smearing the lintels of their doors with the blood of the lamb, their
first-born were protected from death. In memory of this salvation God ordained
the celebration of the rite of the passover lamb (cf. Ex 12:47). However, this
redemption from Egyptian slavery was but a prefigurement of the Redemption
Christ would bring about. “Christ our Lord achieved this task [of redeeming man-
kind and giving perfect glory to God] principally by the paschal mystery of his
blessed passion, resurrection from the dead, and glorious ascension” (Vatican
II, “Sacrosanctum Concilium”, 5). By shedding his blood on the Cross, Christ
has redeemed us from the slavery of sin, from the power of the devil, and from
death (cf. note on Rom 3:24-25). He is the true passover Lamb (cf. Jn 1:29).
“When we reflect that we have been ransomed ‘not with perishable things such
as silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without
blemish or spot’ (1 Pet 1:18f), we are naturally led to conclude that we could
have received no gift more salutary than this power [given to the Church] of for-
giving sins, which proclaims the ineffable providence of God and the excess of
his love towards us” (”St Pius V Catechism”, I, 11, 10).
The Redemption wrought by Christ frees us from the worst of all slaveries—that
of sin. As the Second Vatican Council puts it, “Man finds that he is unable of
himself to overcome the assaults of evil successfully, so that everyone feels as
though bound by chains. But the Lord himself came to free and strengthen man,
renewing him inwardly and casting out the ‘ruler of this world’ (Jn 12:31), who held
him in the bondage of sin. For sin brought man to a lower state, forcing him away
from the completeness that is his to attain” (”Gaudium Et Spes”, 13).
In carrying out this Redemption, our Lord was motivated by his infinite love for
man. This love, which far exceeds anything man could hope for, or could merit,
is to be seen above all in the universal generosity of God’s forgiveness, for though
“sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Rom 5:20); this forgiveness,
achieved by Christ’s death on the cross, is the supreme sign of God’s love for us,
for “greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”
(Jn 15:13). If God the Father gave up his Son to death for the remission of men’s
sins, “it was to reveal the love that is always greater than the whole of creation,
the love that is he himself, since ‘God is love’ (1 Jn 4:8, 16)”, John Paul II reminds
us. “Above all, love is greater than sin, than weakness, than ‘the futility of creation’
(cf. Rom 8:20); it is stronger than death” (Redemptor Hominis”, 9).
By enabling our sins to be forgiven, the Redemption brought about by Christ has
restored man’s dignity. “Increasingly contemplating the whole of Christ’s mystery,
the Church knows with all the certainty of faith that the Redemption that took
place through the Cross has definitely restored his dignity to man and given back
meaning to his life in the world, a meaning that was lost to a considerable extent
because of sin” (”Redemptor Hominis”, 10). This action on God’s part reveals his
wisdom and prudence.
9. Through Christ’s redemptive action, God has not only pardoned sin: he has
also shown that his salvific plan embraces all history and all creation. This plan,
which was revealed in Jesus Christ, St Paul calls “the mystery” of God’s will; its
revelation is a further divine blessing. The entire mystery embraces the establish-
ment of the Church and the gift of divine filiation (vv. 4-7), the recapitulation of all
things in Christ (v. 10), and the convoking of Jews and Gentiles to form part of the
Church (vv. 11-14; cf. 3:4-7). All this has been revealed in Christ, in whom, there-
fore, God’s revelation reaches its climax. Christ “did this by the total fact of his
presence and self-manifestation—by words and works, signs and miracles, but
above all by his death and glorious resurrection from the dead, and finally by
sending the Spirit of truth. He revealed that God is with us, to deliver us from the
darkness of sin and death, and to raise us up to eternal life” (Vatican II, “Dei
The fact that God reveals his plans of salvation is a further proof of his love and
mercy, for it enables man to recognize God’s infinite wisdom and goodness and
to hear his invitation to take part in these plans. As the Second Vatican Council
puts it, “It pleased God, in his goodness and wisdom, to reveal himself and to
make known the mystery of his will (cf. Eph 1:9). His will was that man should
have access to the Father through Christ, the Word made flesh, in the Holy Spirit,
and thus become sharers in the divine nature (cf. Eph 2:18; 2 Pet 1:4). By this
revelation, then, the invisible God (cf. Col 1:15; 1 Tim 1:17), from the fullness of
his love, addresses men as his friends (cf. Ex 33: 11; Jn 15:14f), and moves
among them (cf. Bar 3:38), in order to invite and receive them into his own
company” (”Dei Verbum”, 2).
On the meaning of the word “mystery” in St Paul, see the notes on 1:26, 28; 2:9.
10. The “mystery” revealed by God in his love takes shape in a harmonious way,
in different stages or moments (”kairoi”) as history progresses. The fullness of
time came with the Incarnation (cf. Gal 4:4) and it will last until the End. Through
the Redemption, Christ has rechannelled history towards God; he rules over all
human history in a supernatural way. Not only have God’s mysterious plans be-
gun to take effect: they have been revealed to the Church, which God uses to
implement these plans. “Already the final age of the world is with us (cf. 1 Cor
10:11) and the renewal of the world is irrevocably under way; it is even now anti-
cipated in a certain real way, for the Church on earth is endowed already with a
sanctity that is real though imperfect. However, until there be realized new hea-
vens and a new earth in which justice dwells (cf. 2 Pet 3:13) the pilgrim Church,
in its sacraments and institutions, which belong to this present age, carries the
mark of this world which will pass, and she herself takes her place among the
creatures which groan and travail yet and await the revelation of the sons of God
(cf. Rom 8:19-22)” (Vatican II, “Lumen Gentium”, 48).
The climax of God’s pre-creation plan involves “uniting” (”recapitulating”) all things
in Christ: Christ is to be the cornerstone and head of all creation. This means that,
through his redemptive activity, Christ unites and leads the created world back to
God. Its unity had been destroyed as a result of sin, but now Christ binds it to-
gether, uniting heavenly things as well as mankind and other earthly things. St
John Chrysostom teaches that “since heavenly things and earthly things were
torn apart from each other, they had no head [...]. (God) made Christ according
to the flesh the sole head of all things, of angels and of men; that is, he provided
one single principle for angels and for men [...]; for all things will be perfectly uni-
ted as they ought to be when they are gathered together under one head, linked
by a bond which must come from on high” (”Hom. on Eph, ad loc.”).
Christ’s being head of all things—as will be made manifest at the end of time—
stems from the fact that he is true God and true man, the head and first-born of
all creation. By rising from the dead, he has overcome the power of sin and death,
and has become Lord of all creation (cf. Acts 2:36; Rom 1:4; Eph 1:19-23); all
other things, invisible as well as invisible, come under his sway.
The motto taken by Pius X when he became Pope echoes this idea of Christ’s
Lordship: “If someone were to ask us for a motto which conveys our purpose we
would always reply, ‘Reinstating all things in Christ’ [...], trying to bring all men
to return to divine obedience” (”E supremi apostolatus”).
“Uniting all things in Christ”: this includes putting Christ at the summit of human
activities, as the founder of Opus Dei points out: “St Paul gave a motto to the
Christians at Ephesus: ‘Instaurare omnia in Christo’ (Eph 1:10), to fill everything
with the spirit of Jesus, placing Christ at the center of everything. ‘And I, when
I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself’ (Jn 12:32). Through
his incarnation, through his work at Nazareth and his preaching and miracles in
the land of Judea and Galilee, through his death on the cross, and through his
resurrection, Christ is the center of the universe, the first-born and Lord of all
“Our task as Christians is to proclaim this kingship of Christ, announcing it
through what we say and do. Our Lord wants men and women of his own in all
walks of life. Some he calls away from society, asking them to give up involve-
ment in the world, so that they remind the rest of us by their example that God
exists. To others he entrusts the priestly ministry. But he wants the vast majority
to stay right where they are, in all earthly occupations in which they work—in the
factory, the laboratory, the farm, the trades, the streets of the big cities and the
trails of the mountains” (”Christ Is Passing By”, 105).
11-14. The Apostle now contemplates a further divine blessing—the implementa-
tion of the “mystery” through the Redemption wrought by Christ: God calls the
Jews (vv. 11f) and the Gentiles (v. 13) together, to form a single people (v. 14).
Paul first refers to the Jewish people, of which he himself is a member, which
is why he uses the term “we” (v. 12). He then speaks of the Gentile Christians
and refers to them as “you” (v. 13).
11-12. The Jewish people’s expectations have been fulfilled in Christ: he has
brought the Kingdom of God and the messianic gifts, designed in the first in-
stance for Israel as its inheritance (cf. Mt 4:17; 12:28; Lk 4:16-22). God’s inten-
tion in selecting Israel was to form a people of his own (cf. Ex 19:5) that would
glorify him and proclaim to the nations its hope in a coming Messiah. “God,
with loving concern contemplating, and making preparation for, the salvation of
the whole human race, in a singular undertaking chose for himself a people to
whom he would entrust his promises. By his covenant with Abraham (cf. Gen
15:18) and, through Moses, with the race of Israel (cf. Ex 24:8), he did acquire
a people for himself, and to them he revealed himself in words and deeds as
the one, true, living God, so that Israel might experience the ways of God with
men. Moreover, by listening to the voice of God speaking to them through the
prophets, they had steadily to understand his ways more fully and more clearly,
and make them more widely known among the nations (cf. Ps 21:28-9; 95:1-3;
Is 2:1-4; Jer 3:17)” (Vatican II, “Dei Verbum”, 14).
St Paul emphasizes that even before the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, the
just of the Old Testament acted in line with their belief in the promised Messiah
(cf. Gal 3:11; Rom 1:17); not only did they look forward to his coming but their
hope was nourished by faith in Christ as a result of their acceptance of God’s
promise. As later examples of this same faith we might mention Zechariah and
Elizabeth; Simeon and Anna; and, above all, St Joseph. St Joseph’s faith was
“full, confident, complete”, Monsignor Escriva comments. “It expressed itself in
an effective dedication to the will of God and an intelligent obedience. With faith
went love. His faith nurtured his love of God, who was fulfilling the promises made
to Abraham, Jacob and Moses, and his affection for Mary his wife and his father-
ly affection for Jesus. This faith, hope and love would further the great mission
which God was beginning in the world through, among others, a carpenter in
Galilee—the redemption of mankind” (”Christ Is Passing By”, 42).
13-14. If St Paul recognizes the magnificence of God’s saving plan in the fulfill-
ment, through Jesus, of the ancient promises to the Jews, he is even more awed
by the fact that the Gentiles are being called to share in God’s largesse. This call
of the Gentiles is, as it were, a further blessing from God.
It is through the preaching of the Gospel that the Gentiles come to form part of
the Church: faith coming initially through hearing the word of God (cf. Rom 10:17).
Once a person has accepted that word, God seals the believer with the promised
Holy Spirit (cf. Gal 3:14); this seal is the pledge or guarantee of divine inheritance
and proves that we have been accepted by God, incorporated into his Church, and
given access to that salvation which had previously been reserved to Israel. Here
we can see a parallelism between the “seal” of circumcision which made the Old
Covenant believer a member of the people of Israel, and the “seal” of the Holy
Spirit in Baptism which, in the New Testament, makes people members of the
Church (Rom 4:22; 2 Cor 1:22; Eph 4:30). The “efficient cause” of our justification
s “the merciful God, who freely washes and sanctifies (cf. 1 Cor 6:11), sealing
and anointing with the Holy Spirit of the promise, who is the pledge of our inheri-
tance” (Council of Trent, “De Justificatione”, chap. 7).
A seal or pledge was the mark used in business to betoken or guarantee future
payment of the agreed price in full. In this case it represents a firm commitment
on God’s part, to grant the believer full and permanent possession of eternal
blessedness, an anticipation of which is given at Baptism and thereafter (cf. 2
Cor 1:22; 5:5). Through Christ, St Basil comments, “Paradise is restored to us;
we are enabled to ascend to the kingdom of heaven; we are given back our adop-
tion as sons, our confidence to call God himself our Father; we become partakers
of Christ’s grace, and are called children of light; we are enabled to share in the
glory of heaven, to be enveloped in a plenitude of blessings both in this world and
in the world to come [...]. If this be the promise, what will the final outcome not
be? If this, the beginning, is so wonderful, what will the final consummation not
be?” (”De Spiritu Sancto”, 15, 36).
The gift of the Holy Spirit, who, through faith, dwells in the soul of the Christian
in grace, represents, in this last stanza of the hymn, the high point in the imple-
mentation of God’s salvific plan. The Holy Spirit, who gathered together the
Church at Pentecost (cf. Acts 2: 14), continues to guide and inspire the aposto-
late of the members of the new people of God down through the centuries. The
Magisterium of the Church reminds us that “throughout the ages the Holy Spirit
makes the entire Church ‘one in communion and ministry; and provides her with
different hierarchical and charismatic gifts’ (”Lumen Gentium”, 4), giving life to
ecclesiastical structures, being as it were their soul, and inspiring in the hearts
of the faithful that same spirit of mission which impelled Christ himself. He even
at times visibly anticipates apostolic action, just as in various ways he uncea-
singly accompanies and directs it” (Vatican II, “Ad Gentes”, 4).
God has acquired his new people at the cost of his Son’s blood. This people made
up of believers in Christ has replaced the people of the Old Testament, regardless
of background. As the Second Vatican Council puts it, “As Israel according to the
flesh which wandered in the desert was already called the Church of God (cf. 2
Ezra 13:1; Num 20:4; Deut23:1ff), so too, the new Israel, which advances in this
present era in search of a future and permanent city (cf. Heb 13:14), is called
also the Church of Christ (cf. Mt 16:18). It is Christ indeed who has purchased it
with his own blood (cf. Acts 20:28); he has filled it with his spirit; he has provided
means adapted to its visible and social union. All those who in faith look towards
Jesus, the author of salvation and the principle of unity and peace, God has
gathered together and established as the Church, that it may be for each and
every one the visible sacrament of this saving unity” (”Lumen Gentium”, 9).
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.