Eph. 1:3

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:3).

There are a few things which I would like to mention about these verses.

In the first place, I note what Paul teaches about the blessing we have received from God. The Apostle says that we have received from God “every spiritual blessing”, and that these blessings are located in Christ, in the heavenly places. I am less sure what is meant when he says that blessings are in “the heavenly places.” Perhaps he is referring to the fact that Christ has ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father, and that from there He rules over all things as the King of Kings. This would connect very nicely with what the Apostle Peter told his listeners at Pentecost: “This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God [i.e., ascended into heaven], and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you both see and hear” (Acts 2:32-33).

What I wish to emphasize is this. Paul teaches that “every spiritual blessing” has been given to us by God in Christ. I take this to mean that in Christ we have everything necessary for a blessed spiritual life, and therefore there is no need to look elsewhere, to other figures, in search of something more. This may seem a controversial point, especially in light of the recent fascination with the notion of “holy envy.” I certainly do not wish to deny that there are true and good things in other religions which are worth affirming and celebrating, as Nostra Aetate teaches. But at the same time, I think it is important to emphasize the all-sufficiency of Christ for a spiritual life. This was a point made by all His Apostles, who themselves lived in a religiously very diverse place and time in history. Peter agrees with Paul on this point: “His [viz., Jesus’] divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3).

If this is what the Apostles taught, I wonder why it is that we may sometimes be “bored” with Christ, or look to others for instruction in the spiritual life. Why do the teachings of other religions and other religious figures have this seductive quality? It may be that the fascination with what is unfamiliar and different is a temptation, an attempt on the part of dark forces to distract us from what really saves. Or it may be that our ventures into the teachings of other religions will eventually lead us back to Christ, either because these teachings find their fulfillment in what Christ teaches, or else because we will see them as empty and lacking in saving power. But in either case, the desirable end result would seem to be a return to Christ whom we had forsaken in the first place.

If the Apostles are to be believed, then we have every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. What remains for us to do is only to take advantage of the blessings which are offered us and to pray that Christ fill us with His Spirit and love, that we may live holy and righteous and blameless lives in the world, shining like stars (cf. Phil. 2:15).

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