“At the beginning of his letter to the Christians of Ephesus (cf. 1: 3-14), the apostle Paul raises a prayer of blessing God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ – a prayer that we have just heard – that introduces us to live the season of Advent, in the context of the faith. The theme of this hymn of praise is God’s plan for man, defined in terms full of joy, wonder and gratitude, as a “benevolent plan,” mercy and love.
Why does the Apostle raise this blessing to God, from the depths of his heart? Because he looks at his work in the history of salvation, culminating in the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus, and he contemplates how the Heavenly Father has chosen us even before the creation of the world, to be his sons in his only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ (cf. Rom 8:14; Gal 4:4 ff). Therefore we exist from eternity in God, in a major project that God has kept within himself and decided to implement and to reveal in ‘the fullness of time’ (cf. Eph 1:10). St. Paul helps us to understand, then, how all creation and, in particular, man and woman are not the result of chance, but a loving plan to respond to the eternal reason of God with the creative and redemptive power of his Word which creates the world. This first statement reminds us that our vocation is not simply to exist in the world, being inserted in history, or even just being a creature of God, it is something greater: it is being chosen by God, even before the creation of the world, in the Son, Jesus Christ. In Him we exist, so to speak, already. God contemplates us in Christ, as adopted children. The ‘benevolent plan’ of God, which is qualified by the Apostle as a ‘loving plan’ (Eph 1:5), is called “the mystery” of Divine will (v. 9), hidden and now revealed in the Person and work of Christ. The divine initiative precedes any human response: it is a free gift of His love that surrounds us and transforms us. (Benedict XVI, Advent general audience, 12-5-2012)