When we read today’s verses from the Letter to the Ephesians, it is helpful to keep in mind that this is a prayer that St. Paul is offering. The prayer consists of several petitions or intercessions that he makes to God:
1. May the Father give you the power through his Spirit for your hidden self to grow strong;
2. so that Christ may live in your hearts through faith;
3. and then, planted in love and built on love, you will, with all the saints, have strength to grasp the breadth and length, the height and the depth;
4. until, knowing the love of Christ, which is beyond all knowledge, you are filled with the utter fullness of God.
The prayer is somewhat paradoxical. He admits within the prayer that he is praying for us to have knowledge which is beyond human understanding; in other words, which no one can really understand. However, rather than get caught up in an argument as to whether this is really possible, it is important that we remember that St. Paul has also written that all things are possible in Christ! CUSANS, people who live with disabilities and with limitations or with chronic illness, know this truth. While we do not have the strength to overcome some of our limitations, if we hand those limitations over to Christ, we will be able to endure and persevere.
This is also important when it comes to our sins. Humanly speaking, we do not have the strength to overcome temptation. If we depend upon our human strength, we will eventually fail. This is particularly true of sins that have become habits. Here we can learn something from the 12 step program that is employed by people who have addictions of any kind (alcohol, drugs, sex, etc.). The first step is to acknowledge our weakness, that we are powerless over our particular sin. The second step is to believe that a higher power (God) can restore us. The third step is to turn our will and our lives over to God (as we understand him). Now notice what St. Paul prays for; namely, that God will give us the power to grow strong so that Christ may live in our hearts, and that we will come to know the breadth, the length, the height and the depth of the love of Christ. The first three steps closely mirror St. Paul’s prayer in Ephesians.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator