Pope Benedict XVI- Audiences
“He chose us in him”
November 23, 2005
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
1. Every week the Liturgy of Vespers proposes to the praying Church
the solemn hymn that opens the Letter to the Ephesians, the text
that has just been proclaimed. It belongs to the category of
berakot, that is, the "blessings" that already appear in the Old
Testament and will be spread further in the Judaic Tradition.
Thus, it consists in a constant stream of praise that rises to God,
who is celebrated in the Christian faith as "Father of Our Lord
For this reason the figure of Christ, in whom the work of God the
Father is revealed and brought about, is central in our hymn of
praise. Indeed, the three principal verbs in this long but compact
Canticle always lead us to the Son.
2. God "chose us in him" (Eph 1: 4): he is our vocation to
holiness, to adoptive sonship, hence, brotherhood with Christ. This
gift, which radically transforms our state as creatures, is offered
to us "through Jesus Christ" (v. 5) in an act that is part of the
great divine plan of salvation, in that loving "according to the
purpose of his will" (v. 5) of the Father, whom the Apostle
contemplates with emotion.
The second verb after the election ("he chose us") designates the
gift of grace: "his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us
in the Beloved" (v. 6).
In Greek we have the same root twice, charis and
echaritosen, to emphasize the gratuitousness of the divine
initiative that preceded any human response. The grace that the
Father gives us in his Only-begotten Son is therefore the
manifestation of his love that enfolds and transforms us.
3. And here we come to the third fundamental verb in the Pauline
Canticle: its subject is always the divine grace that was
"freely bestowed" upon us (cf. v. 8). We therefore have before us a
verb of fullness, we could say - keeping to its original tone - of
super-abundance and unlimited and unreserved giving.
We thus penetrate the infinite and glorious depths of God's mystery,
opened and revealed through grace to whoever is called by grace and
by love, since it is impossible to arrive at this revelation endowed
with human intelligence and ability alone.
""Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it so much as dawned
on man what God has prepared for those who love him'. Yet God has
revealed this wisdom to us through the Spirit. The Spirit
scrutinizes all matters, even the deep things of God" (I Cor
4. The "mystery of the divine will" has a centre which is destined
to coordinate the whole of the being and the whole of history,
leading them to the fullness desired by God: "to unite all things
in him" (Eph 1: 10). In this "design", in Greek (oikonomia),
that is, in this harmonious plan of being and of existing, Christ
rises, Head of the Body of the Church but also the axis that unites
"all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth".
Dispersion and restrictions are overcome and that "fullness" is
formed which is the true goal of the plan that the divine will
pre-established from its origins.
Thus, we stand before a grandiose fresco of the history of creation
and salvation; let us now meditate upon it and deepen our knowledge
of it through the words of St Irenaeus, a great second-century
Doctor of the Church, in which, in some masterful passages of his
Treatise Adversus Haereses, is developed an articulate
reflection precisely on the recapitulation brought about by Christ.
5. The Christian faith, he affirms, recognizes that "there is only
one God the Father and only one Jesus Christ, Our Lord, who has come
through the whole economy and has recapitulated all things in
himself. Among all things is also the human being, formed in the
likeness of God. Therefore, he has also brought the human being to
fulfilment in himself; the One who is invisible becomes visible, the
One who is beyond understanding becomes understandable, and the One
who is the Word becomes man" (3, 16, 6: Già e non ancora,
CCCXX, Milan, 1979, p. 268).
This is why "the Word of God became man" truly and not only in
appearance, for in the latter case "his work would not have been
true". Instead, "he was what he appeared to be: God who
recapitulates in himself his original creature, who is man, to kill
sin, destroy death and give life to man. And for this reason his
works are true (3, 18, 7: ibid., pp. 277-278).
He made himself Head of the Church to draw all people to himself at
the right moment. In the spirit of St Irenaeus' words let us pray:
Yes, Lord, attract us to you, attract the world to you and give us
peace, your peace.
[To special groups:]
I extend a warm welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims here today,
including groups from England, Australia, The Philippines and the
United States of America. May you have a memorable stay in Rome and
a safe return to your homes. Upon all of you, I invoke the peace and
joy of Jesus Christ Our Lord!
I then greet the representatives of the Italian National
Anti-Usury Council, which is commemorating its 10th anniversary.
Dear friends, the presence of so many of you gives me the
opportunity to express my deep appreciation for the courageous and
generous work you do for families and individuals affected by the
deplorable social scourge of usury. I hope that many people will
rally to support your praiseworthy commitment to its prevention, to
solidarity and to education in the legal issues involved.
Lastly, I greet the sick, the newly-weds and the
young people. I invite you all to prepare for Advent with
spiritual fervour, drawing from the Word of God and from the
Eucharist the inner energy to welcome the Lord who comes.
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