OCTOBER 14, 2004: HOMILY- EPHESIANS 1:3-10; LUKE 11:47-54
BLESSED BE GOD THE FATHER OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST… WHO HAS MADE KNOWN TO US THE HIDDEN PLAN HE SO KINDLY MADE IN CHRIST FROM THE BEGINNING. Ever since Mary learned of God’s plan from the angel Gabriel, the Lord Jesus has been the key that unlocks the meaning of human history. In the Epistle to the Ephesians, Paul the Apostle, proclaims that we must look to him to understand the purpose of the whole of the cosmos. God will manifest his plan openly at his chosen time. Meanwhile He has revealed it hidden in a mystery to the Church. “He will bring everything together under Christ as head, everything in heaven and everything on earth.”
We who have received the grace of faith, are beneficiaries of this revelation. Because God’s plan has been made known to us through the Church we are in a position actively and consciously to collaborate in its realization. This honor of collaborating with God in bringing about the completion of His design is a source of our dignity. In giving us this understanding of the purpose of His creation the Father invites us to make use of this knowledge to put into effect the teachings of our Lord and so to have a share in bringing to completion the plan of redemption that gives purpose to all of creation.
First of all, to be sure, we ourselves need redemption. So it is that Paul reminds us here to be grateful that we have received it freely by faith. IT IS IN CHRIST AND THROUGH HIS BLOOD THAT WE HAVE BEEN REDEEMED AND OUR SINS FORGIVEN, SO IMMESURABLY GENEROUS IS GOD’S FAVOR TO US. This favor is given at great cost, then, and only an unfathomable love accounts for it. In today’s gospel we encounter our Lord as he confronts the religious authorities of his people who would eventually succeed in putting him to death. Uncharacteristically, on this occasion Jesus displays his anger and indignation in outspoken and public reproof. We learn from this confrontation and from a few other similar passionate rebukes of offenders against the message of love and forgiveness that he revealed that our Lord’s meekness and humility was the expression of a loving strength, not an indication of fear or weakness.
His angry denunciation of the men who, in God’s name, rejected and put to death prophets sent to them by a merciful God, was not simply the disburdening of his strong feelings; rather, by this frank denunciation he was himself fulfilling his prophetic mission by warning that they were incurring guilt by their refusal to recognize him as offering them the grace of redemption. He encountered a fiercer hostility for his efforts, so that those he sought to correct became more active in their opposition.
Suffering such hostility and resistance was already a work of our redemption; the passion and death with the shedding of his blood completed that task of reconciling us to the Father for which he had come into the world. This is the price paid for the grace we have received; it tells of a love that surpasses comprehension.
Having received this favor, we understand, as Paul goes on to explain, ‘fully the mystery, the plan He (God) was pleased to decree in Christ… to bring all things in the heavens and on earth into one under Christ’s headship.’ This wisdom gives meaning and purpose to our life. By the grace of this Eucharist may we always be grateful for such favor and prove worthy of so generous a trust and love by fidelity to our Lord’s example and to his word.
Abbot John Eudes Bamberger
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