THE EPISTLE OF S. PAUL TO THE EPHESIANS. CHAPTER I.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with spiritual blessings in heavenly places, in Christ:
4 As he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and unspotted in his sight in charity.
5 Who hath predestinated us unto the adoption of children through Jesus Christ unto himself : according to the purpose of his will.
6 Unto the praise of the glory of his grace, in which he hath graced us in his beloved Son.
7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the remission of sins according to the riches of his grace,
8 Which hath superabounded in us in all wisdom and prudence,
9 That he might make known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in him,
10 In the dispensation of the fulness of times, to re-establish all things in Christ, that are in heaven and on earth, in him.
11 In whom we also are called by lot, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things according to the counsel of his will.
12 That we may be unto the praise of his glory, we who before hoped in Christ.
How sublime is the Apostle's description of the grace and purpose of God in liis regard ! But were Mary to tell forth the great tilings which He Who is Mighty had done for her, what words would be adequate ? He blessed her with all spiritual blessings above all the heavenly choirs. He chose her before the foundation of the world to be holy and immaculate, from the first moment of her existence, in His sight, in charity ; predestined, as she was, to be His most beloved daughter, through Jesus Christ, according to His blessed Will, that in her His grace, wherewith He graced and made her full, might be praised and glorified through Jesus Christ His Only-begotten Son, of whom she was to be Mother, and by whom she received redemption through His Blood, in the most excellent manner, even the preservation from all stain of sin, original and actual, by an excess of richest grace, which super-abounded in her in sublimest wisdom and prudence. So that He accomplished by her the greatest mystery of His Will, the Incarnation of the Divine Word, as He had in the good plea sure of His eternal decrees purposed to do, when the fulness of time should come : viz., to send His Son, made of a woman, that He might by His Incarnate Word redeem mankind, and thus re-establish all things on earth, and in heaven also ; by filling up with the redeemed of men, those thrones which the rebel angels had forfeited. Through whose infinite merits Mary was chosen too to such an excellent dignity, and to take in this mystery so sublime a part; being graciously elected thereto from eternity, according to the Divine Will which knows how to accomplish in all things its counsel, and to bring all to shew forth His own praise and glory.
17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and of revelation, in the knowledge of him :
18 The eyes of your heart enlightened, that you may know what the hope is of his calling, and what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.
S. Paul not only preached in order to enlighten, as he says in this same epistle , [iii. 8, 9.] but he prayed God to enlighten. It requires to have the eyes of the heart opened and enlightened, in order to understand what is the present work of grace, and future hope of glory, even in the least of the saints. Who then even among the saints can know what grace and glory have done for Mary ? If the saintly Doctors tell us marvellous things of her, we must remember that the eyes of their hearts were enlightened, while ours are very dim. But what spirit of wisdom must the Father of glory have given to her in the knowledge of Himself and His Divine Son. S. Paul tells the Ephesians that from the few words he had written they might judge of his knowledge in the mystery of Christ? [iii. 3, 4.] So from the Magnificat we can form some little conception of Mary's gift of wisdom. Yet those words were uttered before her Son's birth. Now we are told with what attention she pondered over every circumstance regarding Him ; [Luke ii. 19, 51.] with what attention, then, must she have listened to all His words, and studied all His acts while He lived with her. It pleases God to reveal His mysteries to little ones. [Matt. xi. 25, 26.] Who so little as Mary in the true sense ? " No man knoweth the Son, but the Father, neither doth anyone know the Father, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him." [Ib. 27.] Did it not please Jesus to reveal His Father to His Mother ? And did not the Father reveal the Son to the Mother 1 If He revealed Him to S. Peter, how much more to Mary.
19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us, who believe according to the operation of the might of his power.
20 Which he wrought in Christ, raising him up from the dead, and setting him on his right hand in the heavenly places.
21 Above all principality, and power, and virtue, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.
22 And he hath subjected all things under his feet, and hath made him head over all the church,
23 Which is his body, and the fulness of him who is filled all in all.
In enumerating the magnificent titles of the Angelic Choirs, and thus glorifying them, S. Paul enhances, and sets off the super-eminent dignity and glory of the Man, Christ Jesus, over all of which He is placed. Surely, in thus glorifying the pre-eminent dignity and excellence of Mary's Son, the Apostle indirectly and implicitly enhances the dignity and glory of the Mother, from whom He derives that nature so exalted, and through whom He is in fact what He is, viz., Jesus Christ, the God-man, constituted King of Angels and Saints. Is it conceivable that she, His Mother, should be set lower than His servants and ministering spirits—she, to whom "the Father of the world to come" made Himself on earth subject ? No.— Sedes tua Deus, in saeculum saeculi. Dixit Dominus Domino meo, sede a dextris meis. Such is Thy glorious throne, 0 Word Incarnate : and where shall that of Thy royal Mother be ? David again shall speak. Astitit Regina a dextris tuis. The more, therefore, the Apostle glorifies the Angelic Choirs, the more does he enhance the glory of the Mother of God, which is above theirs.
18 For by him we have access both in one Spirit to the Father.
19 Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners: but you are fellow-citizens with the saints, and the domestics of God.
20 Built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone :
21 In whom all the building being framed together, groweth up into an holy temple in the Lord.
22 In whom you also are built together into an habitation of God in the Spirit.
The Apostle says that if we are in communion with God, the ever-Blessed Trinity— by the Son, in the Spirit, to the Father—we have then full communion with God's Saints ; we belong to the same city, the same household ; we form with the Saints one temple built of living stones in which God Himself dwells. How wondrously did He dwell in Mary, first in her soul, then in her body ; and by her He became the chief corner-stone, uniting all nations. No wonder, all nations and all generations call her blessed. For is it not to her co-operation in the Incarnation, and to her prayers on earth and in heaven, we owe it, that we are no longer strangers and foreigners to the Divine Family ?
Built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets. Mary is called by the Church Queen of Apostles, and Queen of Prophets. She was not one of the Apostles, who are represented by S. John as the twelve foundations of the heavenly Jerusalem. [Apoc. xxi. 14.] But she was far more. She was the subject of Apostolic teaching. She was the Woman revealed to prophets, and she herself was the great prophetess, who sketched the outlines of her Son's Kingdom, and her own glory in it. She is also one of the principal agents of the Holy Ghost in building up the living walls of the temple of God. Oh ! happy we to have part in such mysteries. " One same end, one same beatitude, one same joy, one same glory, one same kingdom with God Himself." [Tauler.] This is what we share with the Saints, and with Mary their Queen.