Because the thought and teaching of this portion of St.Paul’s letter continues as one great truth into chapter 3 of Ephesians, I’ve decided to lead our ponderings all the way through to the end of chapter 3, before we transition into the exhortations and encouragements embodied throughout the remainder of the letter, chapters 4 through 6. As a result, your reading assignment this week, preparatory to the beginning of Lent next Wednesday, will be somewhat longer than the previous ones. If you are able to read the following suggested Scriptures, I believe you will find yourself not only prepared well for our first Wednesday discussion, but also prepared in heart for Ash Wednesday and the Lenten season just ahead of us.
The exhortations of Paul to the Gentile and Jewish Christians which we find in Ephesians 2:11 through 3:21 are quite obviously rooted in the Parables of the Kingdom which are found in Matthew 20:1-16; Matthew 21:28-31; Matthew 21:33-41; and Matthew 22:1-10. According to St. Matthew’s chronology, these parables were spoken when Jesus was very close to entering into His Passion, that week in and near Jerusalem, which we now refer to as Holy Week. If you read the above passages from Matthew, it will give you insight and much food for thought in relation to Paul’s words to the Ephesian Christians in the first half of his letter. Also, look at Matthew 21:42, 43 in light of Ephesians 2:19-22, concerning the building made up of stones, and the chief cornerstone, Jesus.
Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, the recent regular preacher to the papal household, has this to say concerning Ephesians 3:17, …that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith…you, being rooted and grounded in love…: “Saint Paul wants all Christians to be planted in love and built on love…that is, that charity” (the love that is God) “be the root and foundation of all. Jesus Himself established this principle when He said, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ (Matthew 22:39)….This is the greatest dignity a person can grant to another, and it is through charity” (the outpouring of love from God into our own hearts) “that God found the way of accomplishing such a sublime state.”
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Perhaps you have encountered on television one of the interviews with the producer-directors of the film Son of God. The film is scheduled to open in theatres all over the country today, February 28. I believe this film will have a powerful, even salvific, effect because of its faithfulness to the Gospel narratives. So I am recommending it highly to anyone who desires a deeper understanding of Jesus Christ, of the Gospel message, and the Bible as a whole, including the very Letter to the Ephesians which we are studying now.
I look forward to seeing many of you in Heffernan Hall for our monthly discussion after Ash Wednesday morning mass. JC