On the upcoming Monday evenings, I am giving a catechesis during Vespers on the Ephesians Canticle. It’s a weekly meeting with the young adult catechist of Saint Catherine of Siena Parish in Vallejo.
The Spirit gives signs that there is something very important if it is constantly repeated. If we observe closely, ever Monday at Vespers, we pray the Canticle from Ephesians 1:3-10. After much prayer, I am led to take the next few weeks to unpack these eight verses and what they could possibly suggest for our lives today. As I reference Ephesians it will come from the Revised Standard Version of scripture, to wet our appetite to a translation other than the New American Bible which we are accustomed to in our liturgies.
We have to note right away, that unlike the other Epistles of Paul, Ephesians is the only letter that is not addressed specifically to Ephesus. The other letters greet the Christians in their opening verse to Rome, Corinth, Titus, Timothy. This letter to Ephesians opens with the phrase, “to the saints who are also faithful in Christ Jesus.” Scholars popularly believe that this letter was meant to circulate across Asia since Ephesus was the capital of the province of Asia.
Now to the heart of the matter. This canticle makes up one long, complex, and remarkable sentence in Greek! It has the form of a Jewish prayer of praise or blessing. Tonight, let us look at the first verse which we prayed in Vespers:
“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…”
This verse should not make us think that we who believe in Christ are transported to a heavenly state free from pain, suffering, and evil. After all, Paul will comment in Ephesians 6:12 that there are evil forces even in the heavenly places. Rather, this verse is an assurance that in Christ we share the powerful grace of God that is at work in battling the cosmic forces.
Ephesians is a liturgical letter that sings of our eternal purpose in the Father and in the Church won by Christ! We have a share, as catechist, in the universal and cosmic dream of God to restore everything in Christ Jesus. Our mission as catechist goes beyond the walls of this little hill in Vallejo. What we do here, how we behave hear, speaks to our place in all of creation!
Think about it: the wonder of the stars, the milky way, and Orion’s Belt, the magnificent beauty of the sunrise and sunset, the rolling fog, the thunder and lighting of the night sky … God has created all these things, but these things cannot speak of God and their love for God. They only display God’s majesty.
To us he has given the gift and grace to speak of him with all our being. We have been chosen in his beloved Son Jesus through our baptism in the Trinitarian life of God.
In speaking of him, we bring people to believe and love him in return. Nothing else in creation can do something so awe-inspiring ….. Except you — his catechist, to you who have been given every blessing in heaven to speak of Christ Jesus or as the opening letter of Ephesians state, “to you…. to the saints who are also faithful in Christ Jesus..”