“Unto the praise of the glory of his grace”
Here is today’s second reading in the Douai-Rheims version:
Blessed by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with spiritual blessings in heavenly places, in Christ, as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and unspotted in his sight in charity; who hath predestinated us unto the adoption of children through Jesus Christ unto himself: according to the purpose of his will, unto the praise of the glory of his grace, in which he hath graced us in his beloved son in whom we have redemption through his blood, the remission of sins, according to the riches of his grace which hath superabounded in us in all wisdom and prudence that he might make known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in him, in the dispensation of the fulness of times, to re-establish all things in Christ that are in heaven and on earth in him 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 that we may be unto the praise of his glory, we who before hoped Christ, in whom you also, after you had heard the word of truth, (the gospel of your salvation;) in whom also believing, you were signed with the holy Spirit of promise, who is the pledge of our inheritance, unto the redemption of acquisition, unto the praise of his glory.
I chose this version only because it does not break what in the Greek is a single sentence up into six sentences as did the New American Bible version read out in our churches. In my sermon today I compared the style of this Epistle, so different from that of the genuine Pauline letters, to a succession of waves lifting and carrying us on all those prepositional phrases, as in the one I chose for the title of this thread.
J. D. G. Dunn calls this passage “as profound a meditation on the blessing and purpose of God as we will find anywhere in the Bible”; he thinks the Epistle was written by someone in the Pauline tradition as “an attempt to formulate Paul’s legacy… for the second-generation Christians and to give this synthesis of his heritage a fitting liturgical setting for use in church-gatherings, to provide matter for meditation and worship as well as for instruction.”
Since on another thread below, a couple of people have recommended a discussion of the referent of the word “Church” and in particular of the coming together of divine and human elements to constitute the Church, one way into the discussion is to ask to what degree, if at all, the spiritual blessings here described as the gift of God in Christ and his Holy Spirit enter into one’s apprehension of the Church.