Today is a pretty ordinary day in the liturgy of the Church. It is simply "Thursday of the Twenty-eighth Week" in what we call "ordinary time." Yet, my friends, there is nothing ordinary at all about the first reading we have for the celebration of the Eucharist on this plain, old Thursday. In fact, far from ordinary, the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is incredible, extraordinary! Why do I say this?
Paul is writing to the Ephesians to simply encourage them in their faith, in their discipleship, and to urge the faithful to remember who they are as men and women redeemed by the blood of Christ. It is very likely that Paul sent this letter to other eastern/Asian communities as well. But his purpose is totally uncomplicated. Rather than address problems that may exist in the community of the Church as Paul often did, in this letter written to the community of the Church in Ephesus Paul’s intention is clearly to sing God’s praise and to inspire the readers of his letter so that they will do the same. Paul cries out words of praise; Paul exhorts the faithful to remember their great dignity as destined "for adoption" and to belong to God himself!
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has
blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens…"
Paul sings out his praise of God. Today, on this ordinary day, we are invited to call out to God with songs and hymns of praise. And what is it that can possibly call forth such praise and emotion? Paul puts it very clearly when he says,
"God chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy
and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption
to himself through Jesus Christ.."
And this is how Paul exhorts us to remember who we are my friends. Why, we are chosen by God himself from before the very foundation of the world, chosen to be holy and without blemish! And we who are chosen are to be known as God’s very own beloved sons and daughters. Certainly nothing ordinary about this message on this Thursday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time! In fact, this is the Good News that we need to hear so very much. How easy it is to forget when we are surrounded by such bad news in our world today. How easy to forget that we have been chosen by God to be God’s very own. How easy it is to forget that the best thing we can do today is to praise God, to sing out God’s praises! Yes, my brothers and sisters, today is certainly not an ordinary day! Or is it?
Fr. Pat Brennan, CP is the director of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.