This opening of the thanksgiving to the Ephesians is given as part of one of the “themed” penitential services in Appendix II of the Rite of Penance. The liturgies in this appendix were prepared by the CDWDS in the 1970′s. They may stand alone as Bible services without the sacrament. Or form II or III may be celebrated after the homily.
To give some perspective, this reading is yoked to Psalm 27 and Luke’s long parable (15:11-32) of the lost son. This lyrical passage may be a fragment of an ancient Christian hymn. In fact, it is utilized weekly during Roman evening prayer on Mondays.
The rite cites verses 3-7, but the reading given in the latest edition of the Rite only includes up to verse 6. Here it is:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ
with every spiritual blessing in the heavens,
as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world,
to be holy and without blemish before him.
In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ,
in accord with the favor of his will,
for the praise of the glory of his grace
that he granted us in the beloved.
Verses three and four are also used as a Roman Rite baptismal acclamation, as we discussed here in our series on RCIA. We should not be surprised of the connection between baptism and reconciliation. Each sacrament emphasizes that we are part of the family of God. Luke parable underscores this in a dramatic way. God the Father moves way beyond justice, propriety, and dignity and literally flies off his front porch to embrace us at the very first sign of repentance on our part.
This passage from Ephesians is a great match for the welcoming Father of Luke 15. In it our relationship with Jesus Christ is affirmed. Rather than a standoffish and resentful “elder brother,” the Lord Jesus is part of our absorption into the family. It is through Christ’s grace, we are as God acclaims us: the adopted daughters and sons of God. It is more than a fact after we go running back to God. It is our destiny.
For a penitent or community in need of this affirmation, this is a brilliant reminder, a song that should always be on our hearts and on our lips.