Ephesians 1: 1-14
The Father’s Plan of Salvation. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, 4 as He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before Him. In love 5He destined us for adoption to Himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, 6for the praise of the glory of His grace that He granted us in the beloved.
Fulfillment through Christ. 7In Him we have redemption by His blood, the forgiveness of transgressions, in accord with the riches of His grace 8that He lavished upon us. In all wisdom and insight, 9He has made known to us the mystery of His will in accord with His favor that He set forth in Him 10as a plan for the fullness of times, to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth.
Inheritance through the Spirit. 11In Him we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will, 12so that we might exist for the praise of his glory, we who first hoped in Christ. 13In 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, 14which is the first installment of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s possession, to the praise of his glory.
The Letter of Saint Paul to the Ephesians is the Magna Carta of the New Testament; it is one of the great letters. And it is one of the favorites among so many of the mystics of the Church, especially our Carmelite saints. Because it so well captures what it means to be immersed in the mystery of God’s love for us and the ramifications of what that love means.
I hope to help you discover who Jesus is, and the impact He is meant to have in the reality of our lives. I want you to encounter Christ loving the real you, not the ideal you; to really allow the Gospel to speak to the true, concrete, and actual experience of our daily lives, and our daily challenges of having to walk by faith and not by sight.
When we’ve been walking by faith for some time and the honeymoon has long begun, (but hopefully not over); when we’ve already had that initial experience of discovering Christ and have had to pass through many deserts with Him —how do we still keep the fire burning – even after we have been down the dark valley PLENTY of times.
The purpose [of Lent] is to kindle love’s fire inside of you. That is all that matters. In the end, that’s all that will be. What matters most is that Jesus Christ’s fire, which is the Holy Spirit, may be active and ever evolving in my life, that there may be an evolution of who I am in Him, and who He is in me. Glory be to God!
I always have access to new growths, no matter where I’ve been or how long I’ve been on the road, and know that Jesus Christ is ever new. He doesn’t get old; He’s ever fresh. But we have to protect our hearts and minds. Our faith is an ever-fragile gift. We have to protect that so Christ never becomes stale in my thoughts, in my words, in my actions, in my character, and in my daily living.
No matter what the challenges have been, no matter how big the battles, we must always be open to a new birth, to be born again in a different way that we were born before. This is what we’re after, allowing our hearts to be completely united to His, that we may let Him take our breath away.
I can’t do that for you. But the Holy Spirit sure can, and he can use me because he always uses poor instruments to bring forth an orchestra of grace to fall fresh upon the assembly. Amidst unexpected places, the Lord can work a masterpiece, and it’s among the littlest of people that God can do the greatest things.
It’s faith that opens us up. It’s faith that makes the fire come alive again. It’s faith that opens us to new reservoirs of possibilities in how God has been present, wants to be present, and is present. For Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He’s forever young. And no matter how old we get, when we’re in Him , and He is in us, we too, will be forever young.
As we prepare ourselves [during this Lenten season], we ask the Holy Spirit to open our minds to rediscover Christ and the gift of His love on the cross, to bring that first love back to life again, to stir up in us that spirit of awe and wonder, that we may have the insight that only the Holy Spirit can provide.
We can’t produce that in ourselves; we can’t just snap our fingers and come to really taste the truth and the implication and significance of Jesus’s crucifixion for our lives. It’s not just simply an event of the past, but it’s an ongoing reality. Yes, the crucifixion happened once and for all but it’s an ongoing reality because Christ Passion is all-embracing. His crucifixion is a mystical event. It never ends. It’s all-consuming and all-embracing of everyone, everywhere, all the time, for you, and for me.
How is that alive and real, now? And how do I identify myself in Christ- here? And how do I give myself to Him, more? This is our goal, it is God who is our goal, and He will give us the grace to get there. Into His hands, and His heart, we commit our spirit in the silence of our prayers. May the Lord bless us, protect us from evil, and bring us to everlasting life.
SOURCE: Danville Retreat, 2014.
Copyright Father Robert Barcelos, OCD 2017
‘Arm yourselves with the armor of faith and the sword of truth. Pray for the grace to forgive and to ask for forgiveness – and for the healing of wounded bodies and souls.’
Try the Daily Disconnect as part of your Daily Meditation