Reflections On Today’s Gospel Reading

Thursday, Twenty Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Today’s first reading from the letter to the Ephesians is one my favourite passages in the New Testament. It is a prayer of Paul for the church in Ephesus. What Paul prays for is what we would all wish for, that our hidden self would grow strong through the Spirit, that Christ would live in our hearts through faith, that we would be planted and built on love, the love of Christ, that we would have the strength to grasp the breadth and length, the height and the depth of the love of Christ, which is beyond knowledge, that we would be filled with the utter fullness of God whose power working in us can do infinitely more than all we ask or imagine. What a prayer! We could reflect long on any one of its elements. The content of Paul’s prayer for us is reflected in the desire of Jesus for us in the gospel reading, when he says, ‘I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were blazing already’. Jesus seems to be referring there to the fire of the Holy Spirit which he wants to set alight in the hearts of all. It is the fire of God’s love which Jesus ignites through his life and especially through what he calls in that reading his baptism, his death on the cross. It is through the fire of the Holy Spirit within us that Paul’s prayer for us comes to pass, our hidden self grows strong, Christ lives in our hearts, we are planted and built on Christ’s love, we come to grasp the dimensions of that love and we are filled with the utter fullness of God. When our inner self is built up in this way through the Holy Spirit, it overflows in a way of life that is pleasing to God. The Spirit bears rich fruit in our lives, which gives glory to God. There is a wonderfully exciting and consoling vision here of the Christian life.

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