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General Audience, 14 January 2009



Paul VI Audience Hall
Wednesday, 14 January 2009

 Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Continuing our catechesis on Saint Paul, we turn to the “twin” letters: Colossians and Ephesians. Similar in language, they are unique in developing the theme of Christ as “head” – kephalé – not only of the Church, but also of the entire universe. These letters assure us that Christ is above any hostile earthly power. Christ alone “loved us and gave himself up for us” (Eph 5:2), so that if we remain close to him, we need not fear any adversity. It was God’s plan to “recapitulate” all things in Jesus “through whom all things were created”, so that “by the blood of his Cross” we might be reconciled to the Father. Christ’s headship also implies that, in a certain sense, he is greater than the Church in that his dominion extends beyond her boundaries, and that the Church, rather than the entire cosmos, is referred to as the Body of Christ. These letters are also notable for the spousal image they use to describe how Christ has “won” his bride – the Church – by giving his life for her (cf. Eph 5:25). What greater sign of love could there be than this? Christ thus desires that we grow more beautiful each day through irreproachable moral conduct, “without wrinkle or defect” (Eph 5:27). By living uprightly and justly, may we bear witness to the nuptial union which has already taken place in Christ as we await its fulfilment in the wedding feast to come.

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I extend a warm welcome to all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s audience. May your time in Rome strengthen you to imitate Saint Paul in “giving thanks always and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father” (Eph 5:20)!

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