Second Reading (A): Ephesians 1:17-23

The Overwhelming Greatness
Of God's Power in Us

Popular Translation

17 May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a wise spirit. May he also give you insight about who God is and what he does. 18 May he open your heart to see what he offers you. He gives you hope when he called you to become followers of Jesus. He gives you the richness that his people received and share in the Church. 19 And, he shows you his great power that is definitely at work among us who are faithful. 20 He used his power with Jesus. He raised him from the dead and gave him a place at his right in heaven. 21 Jesus is now above every kind of rule, authority, power, or title. His name is greater than any other name people swear allegiance to in this time, or in eternity. 22 God put all creation beneath Jesus. He gave his Son power as head of the Church, 23 which is his Body. His Body completes everything in the universe in every way anyone can imagine.

Literal Translation

15 Because of this, (because)I have heard of the faith of yours in the Lord Jesus Christ and (your) love for all the saints, 16 I do not stop thanking God on your behalf, remembering you in my prayers, 17 so that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, might give to you the Spirit of wisdom and the manifestation of the knowledge about him, 18 having enlightened the eyes of [your] heart for you to know what is the hope of his call, what (is) the richness of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 what is the overwhelming greatness of his power in us, the (ones) trusting according to the work of the strength of his might, 20 which he worked in CHRIST, having raised him from the dead and having seated HIM at his right in heaven, 21 above every (kind of) rule, authority, power, lordship, and every name being invoked, not only in this age, but also in the one about to happen; 22 he subjected all (things) under HIS feet and he gave HIM (the status of) head over all the Church, 23 which is his body, the fulness of the (One) filling all (things) in every (way).

1:15-16 These verses form the beginning of a long sentence. 1:15 explains the main clause of the sentence, 1:16. In other words, because of the faith and charity of the Ephesians, the author (Paul?) thanks God in his prayers for the congregation. 1:17 revealed the content of his prayer: wisdom and divine revelation.

These verses from the salutation of Ephesians described the content of the author's (Paul?) prayer for the community. As the note above stated, he prayed that the Christians received a spirit of wisdom (or the Spirit's wisdom, depending upon how the phrase is translated) and a revelation of divine knowledge. The Greek culture that dominated the ancient world highly prized both wisdom and revelation. With revelation, one knew the mind of God. With wisdom, one could know how the mind of God worked.

The author defined the content of the revelation in three "what is" statements: the hope of his call (evangelization), the richness of the inheritance in the saints (communal life), and the greatness of his power in us (the personal experience of salvation and divine providence). Why does one become Christian? Because the Christian life gives a person meaning, balance and direction. Why does one remain Christian? Here, there are two answers: communal life and personal spiritual growth. In other words, the community itself (living with the saints) reinforces the benefits and challenges of the Christian life, just as the work of the Spirit in the believer reinforces the communal life.

Notice the work of the Spirit, the overwhelming greatness of God's power in us, became the reason to believe in the revealed destiny of Jesus from Nazareth. That same power rose Christ from the dead, seated him at the right hand of the Father, and gave him dominion over all creation. That same power made the Church, the assembly of the faithful, as THE eschatological sign. The Church is the end game of all existence, the fulness of creation. As Christ's Body, it is the instrument that will fill everything in every possible way.

Many people view the Ascension merely as the return of the Son to the Father. And so it is. But they miss the greater picture. His return was the heavenly fulfillment of the end time promise. Those in Christ are with the Father now, no matter whether they journey on earth or enjoy the beatific vision in heaven. That unity of Christ with his Father and the faithful to the Father through Christ is a reality we experience in a partial way. We see it and taste it, but we yearn to be completely immersed in it. The vision, the experience, the yearning are all gifts of the Spirit, the overwhelming power of God in us.

How does the Ascension increase your hope in the Lord? Your yearning for his return? Explain.