A reading from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians (1:16-23):
16 [I] do not cease giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,
17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him.
18 May the eyes of (your) hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones,
19 and what is the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe, in accord with the exercise of his great might,
20 which he worked in Christ, raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavens,
21 far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this age but also in the one to come.
22 And he put all things beneath his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,
23 which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.
St. Paul prays this prayer for his beloved flock of new believers whom he shepherded and nurtured for three years in Ephesus. The Apostle’s prayer was for the community of disciples to see themselves as more than an institution, but (as what Avery Cardinal Dulles reminded us) to see themselves as the Body of Christ in Mystical Communion with Him.
As an institution, we give the Sacraments to transform ourselves and our neighbors into the People of God: Sacraments of Initiation, Sacraments of Vocation, and Sacraments of Healing (healing for the body and healing for the soul). As the Body of Christ, we the Church are God’s Sacrament, God’s gift to the world, with the responsibility and power to be the visible presence of God on earth.
Heaven prays St. Paul’s prayer for us today, that we be enlightened to know who we are as Christ’s Church in the world, Christ’s Body reaching out to encourage, inspire and heal.
St. Francis prayed similarly that we would see ourselves differently, that we would be the potential and active difference that God sees us being:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope. Where there is darkness, light. Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love. For it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. Amen.
Lex orandi, Lex credendi. We believe what we pray and pray what we believe.
Father in Heaven, may we see ourselves as your Sacrament of Healing, Your instrument of love in action among the sick, poor, and hurting. May we carry the Holy Eucharist in our hearts and be the Eucharist to those who need Your nourishment, Your hope, and Your healing.
As we honor today the Annunciation of our Lord, let us respond to God’s Word as our Blessed Mother Mary, and say in positive affirmation of His promise of hope:
“May it be done to me according to your word,” and be born anew as the Body of Christ.