Category Archives: Reflections on St. Paul

Why One? Commentary on Eph 4: 1-6

Why One? A challenging question. Intuitively, mystics from all religions have come to the realization of our oneness with God, each other and creation. Does this mean we are somehow absorbed in a single amorphous entity and loose our identity? Obviously not. Nor are we God. Very obviously not.

But neither are we isolated, without relationships; we are members of various communities from the human race to our families and friendships. We are one humanity. We are dependent on one another from our conception, birth, and nurturing to our familial and social relationships. We become one body with our spouse [Gen 2:24;Mk 10:8] and form one family unit. Thus, we are faced with that continuously reoccurring phenomenon of both/and; the answer is that I am both me and simultaneously one with others.

As this stemmed from the reading: I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to reserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.[1] [Eph 4:1-6] we’ll start there.

In looking at the reading, the rational reasons for oneness are start with the last [whereas the intuitive insight, as Paul states it, starts with the first.].

One God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Our oneness begins with God, who is one, who is Creator of all, and is the one and only Father of the one family He created [which, when viewed this way, includes all creation, angels and men, spiritual and material]. Thus, He is certainly over all. And since He is all that is, oneness also stems from not only our being created in the image and likeness of God [Gen 1:26, 27] but everything else being a reflection of the One who is one. But He is also in all, continually creating and sustaining all being; He is existence itself. Finally, it is though all being, facets of His image and continuing creation that He makes Himself known: Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made. [Rom 1:20]

One Lord, one faith, one baptism

Here I have to make the leap of faith that the Jews had to do with Jesus, from the One God to Jesus as One with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, the only begotten Son. I have to recognize Him and accept Him as the Messiah. He is Our One Lord, the same for you, for me, for everybody. In believing in Him, we share one Faith; “It follows that all men and women who are saved share, though differently, in the same mystery of salvation in Jesus Christ through his Spirit.”[2] And there is one Baptism, though in the forms of water, of blood, and of desire: “For, since Christ died for all men, and since the ultimate vocation of man is in fact one, and divine, we ought to believe that the Holy Spirit in a manner known only to God offers to every man the possibility of being associated with this paschal mystery.”[3]

As you were also called to the one hope of your call

Israel’s hope rested in Yahweh: My soul, be at rest in God alone, from whom comes my hope. [Ps 62:6], it is realized in Jesus life, death and especially his resurrection: the hope of eternal life that God, who does not lie, promised before time began. [Titus 1:2] As Paul explains elsewhere: But when the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the holy Spirit, whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life. [Titus 3:4-7] It is to this salvation that we have been called through the preaching of the Good News: God chose you as the firstfruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in truth. To this end he has [also] called you through our gospel to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. [2Thes 2:13-14]

One body and one Spirit

There is but one Spirit of God, one Holy Spirit. He who hovered over the waters during the creation is the same as He who lead the Israelites out of Egypt with a cloud and fire; who caused prophetic ecstasy in David, who came upon Mary, who filled Elizabeth, who inspired Simeon, who appeared as a Dove, who drove Jesus into the desert to be tempted, who blows where he wills, who appeared as a cloud, whom Jesus promised to send as our Advocate, whom Jesus breathed upon the Apostles, who came as wind and tongues of fire on Pentecost, who fell upon Cornelius and his household, who convicts the world of sin and righteousness and condemnation, who gives life and who has given different gifts to each one of us….why, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ. [Eph 4:12-13] For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another. [Rom 12:4-5]

striving to reserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace

This unity, this oneness, was not lightly purchased. It took the Son of God to show us that we are one in Him, that He is our one and only Savior, that He suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God [1Pet 3:18] and that if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep. [1Thes 4:14]

We retain this faith, this belief, as one Body, one Church. Contrary to what we witness in our Christian Community, all believing their own interpretation of Christ’s message and claiming that their interpretation is the true faith, they cannot all be right. There is only one church that has all the elements of the faith in it, the one, holy, catholic and Apostolic Church, which possesses both the Scripture and Tradition since the beginning, which has one valid priesthood under bishops who trace their line back to Peter and the Apostles, which has seven cherished sacraments, which had the true Eucharist, the true presence in every tabernacle throughout the world and which can unequivocally claim to preach the truth as guaranteed by the unity of the spirit.

This unity was not only not lightly purchased by God, it is also not easily preserved by us, claiming the blood of martyrs, witnesses to validate its claims, insisting on belief in things unseen alluded to in written Scripture and mandating adherence to moral rectitude that the world deems ludicrous, stifling and archaic.

bearing with one another through love

As pointed out above, though the origin of our oneness is the family of God, this familial, brotherly and sisterly bond is constantly being tested, torn, ripped, shredded, violated through sin. By refusing to obey our one Father, we rebel against our very essence, our image and likeness, just as our first parents did. And we alienate ourselves from the rest of the family, our sisters and brothers in God, in Christ, in the human/divine family.

These ruptures, rivalry, jealousy, fury, selfishness, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder. [2Cor 12:20], these self-inflicted wounds, can only be healed through forgiveness. Even within our own community, there are disagreements, strife, contentions, and the bond of peace must constantly be striven for, purchased daily only at the cost of patience, understanding, acceptance and love, bearing all things, believing all things, hoping all things, enduring all things. [1Cor 13:7]

with all humility and gentleness, with patience

In this passage, Paul outlines how Love is manifested in oneness: patience, humility, gentleness. Patience harkens back to bearing with one another, enduring all things. Patience comes from the same Latin root as passion, “to suffer, to endure.” Oneness requires a huge amount of patience on the part of each of us, of passion in both senses of that word, the fire of love enabling one to endure and to suffer the other. For life with the other is not a bed of roses, there will be misunderstandings, conflicts, confusion, rivalries, disagreements, anger, tempers. Love suffers, endures through, beyond and above all of these.

How does one take up that Cross, the other, and suffer in patience. By realizing one’s littleness and the continual unveiling of God’s providence. By humility, being precisely whom God made us to be, no less but no more. And by gentleness, by imitating God’s mercy and care of me, and doing to the other as was done to me by God.

live in a manner worthy of the call you have received

By do this, by love, patience, gentleness, humility, we will indeed live in a manner worthy of the call of God, not just to our baptism into the one faith, the one Church, the one Body of Christ, the one Spirit, but that vocation, that calling to be one with the One Lord, to be a temple of the Father, to be Christ’s hands, Christ’s feet, Christ’s voice, Christ’s touch in my unique and inimitable way, and to support and encourage you to be His hands, His feet, His voice, His touch, in your special way. For only by all of us being Christ each in our own way can we hope together with our head, to be one with Christ as He is.

Oneness in Scripture

From God’s point of view:

  • One God: Yhwh: I am who I am. [Ex 3:14]
  • One Father of all: The LORD is our God, the LORD alone: other possible translations are “the Lord our God is one Lord”; “the Lord our God, the Lord is one”; “the Lord is our God, the Lord is one. [4] [Deut 6:4]
  • One Source and Creator of all being, yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom all things are and for whom we exist. [1Cor 8:6]
  • One Son: one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things are and through whom we exist. [1Cor 8:6]
  • One Savior and Redeemer of all: For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself as ransom for all. [1Tim 2:5] And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself. [Jn 12:32]
  • One Spirit For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit. [1Cor 12:13]
  • One Way, one Truth, one Life: I am the way and the truthand the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. [Jn 14:6]
  • One Love of all: God is love…In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins. [1Jn 4:8b,10]
  • One Providence: We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. [Rom 8:28]
  • One Plan of Salvation for all This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth. [1Tim 2:3-4]
  • One Body: We, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another [Rom 12:5]
  • One Faith …everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life [Jn 3:16
  • One Spirit, many Gifts: There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; [1Cor 12:4]
  • One Lord, different service: there are different forms of service but the same Lord; [1Cor 12:5]
  • One God, different effects/manifestations of power: there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. [1Cor 12:6]
  • Father is in the Son; the Son in the Father: Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. [Jn 14:10,11]

The Father, Son and Holy Spirit dwell in me, in you; They are one with us and we, through Them, with each other.

  • The Father and the Son will live in me: Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. [Jn 14:23]
  • The Spirit in You: the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it….remains with you, and will be in you. [Jn 14:17]
  • I am in Jesus, Jesus is in me: On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you. [Jn 14:20]
  • We are one with and in the Father and Jesus: they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. [Jn 17:21]

We are “brought to perfection as one” in Christ

  • We are brought to perfection as one: And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me. [Jn 17:22-23]
  • Unity of mind, love, heart, thinking: If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. [Phil 2:1-2]
  • Think in harmony and praise with one voice: May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to think in harmony with one another, in keeping with Christ Jesus, that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. [Rom 15:5-6]
  • Be of the same mind and purpose: I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose. [1Cor 1:10]
  • Christ is one: For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers, by Chloe’s people, that there are rivalries among you. I mean that each of you is saying, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” Is Christ divided? [1Cor 1:11-13]
  • We are one in Christ: There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. [Gal 3:28]
  • We have the same Lord: For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, enriching all who call upon him. [Rom 10:12]
  • We all have the same Spirit: For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit. [1Cor 12:13]
  • Christ is all and in all: Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all and in all. [Col 3:11]

We are all one Body

  • We are all one body: As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also ChristNow you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it. [1Cor 12:12,27] Col 1:18, 24.
  • Christ is head of the body, the Church: He is the head of the body, the church. [Col 1:18]
  • We are one body and individually parts of one another: For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another. [Rom 12:4-5]
  • Together as one body, we support one another and the Church grows: Rather, living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, with the proper functioning of each part, brings about the body’s growth and builds itself up in love. [Eph 4:15-16]
  • The peace of perfection comes from being one: And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. [Col 3:15]
  • Different ministries but unity of faith and knowledge: And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ. [Eph 4:11-13]
  • Without unity and maturity of faith and knowledge, we are individual infants: infants, tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human trickery, from their cunning in the interests of deceitful scheming. [Eph 4:14]
  • If we go off on our own, we are not connected with Christ in his body: Let no one disqualify you, delighting in self-abasement and worship of angels, taking his stand on visions, inflated without reason by his fleshly mind, and not holding closely to the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and bonds, achieves the growth that comes from God. [Col 2:18-19]

We are one because we all receive the same Jesus

  • The loaf is one; Jesus is one; we are one: Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf. [1Cor 10:17]

Jesus is one with my neighbor.

  • The criteria of our judgment: ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ [Mt 25:40]
  • Jesus identifies himself with the persecuted: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” He said, “Who are you, sir?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. [Acts 9:4-5; 22:7-8; 26:14-15]
  • The Second Great Commandment: For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” [Gal 5:14; see Lev 19:18; Mt 19:19; 22:39; Mk 12:31; Lk 10:27; Rom 13:9; Jas 2:8]

[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

[2] Pontifical Council For Inter-Religious Dialogue And The Congregation For The Evangelization Of Peoples, Instruction Dialogue and Proclamation, 29: AAS 84 (1992), 424.

[3] Vatican II, Pope Paul VI, Pastoral Constitution On The Church In The Modern World, Gaudium Et Spes, December 7, 1965, Vatican, History of the Councils, Vatican II,, No. 22.

[4]NABRE note on Deut 6:4.


Breadth and Length and Height and Depth, Conclusion

Prayer for the Readers Eph 3:14-21

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine, by the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.[1]

So, I have explored a small fraction of what the Holy Spirit conveys in this passage and now we reach the concluding sentence.

Now to him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine

The Father is He who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine: There are at least three parts to this statement: God’s omnipotence; our faith; and our hopes:

God’s omnipotence: The Father is He who is able to accomplish…All things are possible for God. [Mk 10:27; Mt 19:26]

I often forget the omnipotence of God because, being surrounded by it every moment of my life, I become inured, cloyed, deadened in the worst possible sense of that word, to the all surrounding, all embracing, all loving manifestation of God in creation. It’s sad, in a way, that I don’t appreciate the miracles popping up all around me every second of my existence, infinitesimal particles come into being and flash out of existence millions of times a second throughout this vast universe, the life conceived continuously and, through God’s providence and love, thrives into fullness, the light from unfathomably distant stars has not even reached me yet, though it started at the instant of creation in an expanding space that is literally faster than the speed of light. Give me the eyes to see…and slow me down to appreciate Your Greatness….

Even when I do ponder Your omnipotence, I am overwhelmed over by the incomprehensiveness of the very concept of Your omnipotence. What does it mean to be omnipotent? Children [and adults, like myself, who fool ourselves into thinking we can control the world around them] play at being omnipotent all the time, perhaps to both expand and define the boundaries of finitude in which we find ourselves enveloped. But Your omnipotence is so far greater than anything of which I can conceive, it literally blows my mind and I, like Job, must repent of my folly: I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be hindered. I have spoken but did not understand; things too marvelous for me, which I did not know…Therefore I disown what I have said, and repent in dust and ashes. [Job 42: 2-3,6]

Finally, the reason I go about my daily life blasé to the truth of reality is that I am so entangled with my “me” and enthralled with my egocentric vision of the world that I miss the pageantry of Your love continuously performing the Ode to Love around me. I am a schmuck smothering beneath the immense bubble of my balloon of a world, a texting unobservant and distracted driver whose impact with Your reality has exploded my emergency air bag, temporarily burying my face in the face mold of my preening self and blinding me to Your awe-inspiring reality. Do I truly appreciate the fact that You are even aware of and count the hairs on my head? [Lk 12:7; Mt 10:30] Truly a major “duh?” moment.

Our Faith: far more than all we ask

Asking is a major theme of the Gospels. With each statement, there is a nuance of asking.

  • I have to ask: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.[Mt 7:7-8]
  • I ask in Jesus name; fulfillment glorifies the Father in the Son: And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. [Jn 14:13]
  • I will be answered because I am chosen and appointed to go and bear fruit: I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. [Jn 15:16]
  • I will be answered on the day I have complete faith: On that day you will not question me about anything. Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you. [Jn 16:23]
  • I will receive what I ask for in prayer with faith: Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive. [Mt 21:22] Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours. [Mk 11:24]
  • The Father will grant what we pray for in common: Again, [amen,] I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. [Mt 18:19]
  • I will be answered if I remain in Jesus and live his words: If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. [Jn 15:7]
  • We know God will answer us because we do what pleases Him: We have confidence in God and receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.[1Jn 3:21-22]
  • God hears and grant us anything that is in accord with His will: And we have this confidence in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask, we know that what we have asked him for is ours. [1Jn 5:14-15]
  • God will hear our prayers and right the wrongs done to us: Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. [Lk 18:7-8]

So, I have to ask, God expects us to ask, God is glorified by and enjoys answering our prayers, God will answer our prayers if we have faith and do His will and particularly when we “call out to him day and night” over injustices.

Why am I so timid about asking? So reluctant? Is it that I don’t have faith that He will answer our prayers? I don’t want to be disappointed that His answer may be “No,” or “Not now,” or something else I don’t want to hear?

I think it is all of the above and especially that I don’t trust God. When I pray, it should be with the openness of Mary that it be done to me according to Your word [Lk 1:38], of Jesus: Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but Yours be done. [Lk 22:42] But I don’t trust Your word; I don’t want Your will to be done, I want mine! Your will may indeed end up badly, involving me in unwed pregnancies like You did to Mary, or worse, in being arrested, tried, mocked, scourged, crowned with thorns, betrayed by my own people, condemned to a traitor’s death, forced to carry my cross and crucified like You did to Your own Son! When I pray: your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven [Mt 6:10], I hate to realize what I am getting myself into! I may have given up house or brothers or sisters or mother and all that stuff for Jesus’ sake and for the sake of the gospel, but besides receiving a hundred times more now in this present age: including houses and brothers and sisters and mothers, etc., etc., there’s a zinger at the end…a bonus You, God, throw in for free: with persecutions. Granted, it’s followed by eternal life in the age to come, [Mk 10:29-30] but those persecutions! I signed up for the daily cross, but does it really have to go this far!

My one consolation [there are a myriad of others to which I am blind] is that your Scripture is replete with reminders that even in persecution, I’m in good company. Even if the world hates you, realize that it hated Me first. [Jn 15:18] You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to another. Amen, I say to you, you will not finish the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. [Mt 10:22-23]

Indeed, it is the world reality and not a warped sense of humor that prompted You to make this another beatitude: Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward will be great in heaven. For their ancestors treated the prophets in the same way. [Lk 6:22-23] Persecution is a sign that the Spirit of God is with me: If you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. [1Pet 4:14] In fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God. They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me. [Jn 26:2b-3] If this happens, I will indeed be in good company for You have sent prophets and apostles; some of them they will kill and persecute in order that this generation might be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah. [Lk 11:49b-51a]

But even in persecution, You will be with me: Call on Me on the day of distress; I will rescue you, and you shall honor Me”[Ps 50:15] Even when I think that You have forgotten how to show mercy, in anger withheld…[Your] compassion,[Ps 77:10; see 91:15] I know the answer: Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you….Even when your hair is gray I will carry you. {Is 49:15; 46:4]

Help me ask then, for You are overjoyed to give.

or imagine:

This addition, this phrase, strikes me as somewhat peculiar. Isn’t everything that we ask for something of which we first have an image in our mind, something we imagine us having?

I guess yes and no. Yes, we know for what we ask. No, this is actually an invitation to dream big, to push out the envelope, to wander outside the box with God in the Garden of Divine Delights.

Paul is making at least two points: first, that the miracles by which I am surrounded at present are so beyond my comprehension that, in and of themselves, they blow my mind beyond all boundaries. Who but God would have demonstrated the miracle of creation out of nothing, the perfection of the alignment of untold circumstances that enabled earth to form, the force of energy within matter that welds the universe together, the spark of divine essence we call “life,” the evolution of millions of varieties of fauna and flora, each uniquely adapted to its purpose in the cosmos, the unique ability of humankind to address the Divine, the divinizing of Human History, the humbling enfleshment of the Divine, the unwavering obedience of the Son of God, the resurrection to eternal immortality, Jesus fully present yet hidden in “bread and wine.” Try explaining those things in their entirety in science, philosophy or theology class.

The second point is that much of which is not revealed is a mystery beyond our finite comprehension. Who has directed the spirit of the LORD, or instructed him as his counselor? Whom did he consult to gain knowledge? Who taught him the path of judgment, or showed him the way of understanding? [Is 40:13-14] As God has inspire Isaiah to tell us: my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways—oracle of the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, my thoughts higher than your thoughts. [Is 55: 8-9]

And thus, Paul exclaims: Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given him anything that he may be repaid?” For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. [Rom 11:33-36]

by the power at work within us

This power is the power of God the Father as Paul stated earlier in the quote: to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self. Do I truly appreciate this power, sense this power, acknowledge this power. I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me, [Phil 4:13] or, as it is translated in the King James Version, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. This is the power of the Holy Spirit that is within us.

This power is not only for our daily grind: I labor and struggle, in accord with the exercise of his power working within me. [Col 1:29] It is also what enables me to face the extraordinary challenges in my life: But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength…The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat and will bring me safe to his heavenly kingdom. [2 Tim 4:17-18] And, since we know all things are possible for God [Mk 10:27], we should also realize that, since He answers all our prayers and is with us always, He has given us the same promise: if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. [Mt 17:20] Therefore, I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong. [2Cor 12:9b-10]

to him be glory

To Him…again, the Father.

Be glory. There seem to be nine different Hebrew words for glory. It can be a verb or a noun. Here it is a verb, to give glory, to praise, to honor, to glorify.

In a sense, it seems rather absurd to think that I, a mortal creature, can give glory, praise and honor to You, my Creator, God. But, upon reflection, I actually do and can. So, too, each particle of Creation, including my self, by virtue of the magnificence of simply existing, even prior to it being a particular manifestation of, an emanation God, is worthy of notice. God is worthy of praise and glory because of its being and reflection of Him. Thus, I do give God glory simply by being me, even before I am aware of Him, even as the original cell in my mother’s womb.

This particular type of passive giving of glory by essence and existence we share with all the rest of Creation. This is why creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God; for creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it, in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. [Rom 8:19-21]

But, since I not only exist, since I am not only a sensate being, but a reflective being, I can actively recognize God as my creator, as the Creator of all the beauty, all the grandeur, all the magnificence around me, and beyond that, witness to the fact that He revealed Himself to me, reached out to me, knows of my distress, my joys, my sorrows and even my sins, in which I purposely decide to go against the inner compass of the conscience He bestowed on me in His wisdom to lead me back to Him, and yet He still loves me, He loves me regardless, unconditionally. In this moment of realization, I can respond in awe, in reverence, in amazement, in incredulity, in joy, and fall in love once more with the One is Love and who has expressed His love for me unconditionally. For that, if nothing else, I will actively give Him glory, adoration and praise, now and forevermore. Glory be to You, Father, and to You, Son, and to You, Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning [passive by all creation], is now [active by all salvation] and ever shall be [active and passive by all re-creation], world without end. And let the people say: Amen!

in the church

Glory in the church. A bit of an odd phrase for Paul to insert here. He has been dealing with spiritually amazing and miraculous things, the breathe, length, height and depth of God’s love and the fullness of God, and all of a sudden, the church is given the responsibility of giving God the Father glory.

Upon reflection, perhaps it is just from the vantage point of my 21st century ecclesia where we seem to be so immersed in social action and world-wide poverty and upheaval in the church itself that it may seem difficult to perceive the glorification of God. But, again, this is just another wonder of God that we are able to work with Him to redeem from this social sin His world and, thus, give Him glory for His faithfulness to all His people, for His unconditional love for saints and sinners alike, for the evolutionary salvation of structures and street people simultaneously, and for the continuous unveiling over time of the wonders of His Kingdom on Earth. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honor, power, and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen. [Rev. 7:12]

and in Christ Jesus

Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you.[Jn 17:1b] The Father gives glory to the Son by making Him the Christ, the Redeemer, the Risen One. In turn, Jesus glorifies the Father for having done great things for Him and He joins in His mother’s hymn: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. [Lk 1:46-47] When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own,…I always do what is pleasing to him.[Jn 8:28-29] He humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him. [Phil 2:8-9] Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. [Jn 13:31b]

to all generations,

Paul ends this prayer with a request to God to continue this glorification of the Father not just at the moment he wrote this but always. He expresses this first in mortal, temporal terms, i.e. generations. This glory is a responsibility passed on from father to son, from mother to daughter, in perpetuity. As long as mortals continue to have children, as long as this world of humanity continues to exist on a temporal plane, it is our duty to glorify God, in the Church and in Christ, for the love and the power He has shown and expended for us.

forever and ever. Amen.

But not only will we glorify God on earth as mortals. When we are raised and join the heavenly Church Triumphant, there too we will raise our voices and acclaim the Father as our God. “Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honor, power, and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” [Rev. 7:12]

And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God. [Phil 1:9-11]

[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.