The Glory of God's Grace
Grace. It's such a commonplace word in the Christian life but I have to admit I sometimes think that I don't really understand it any better now than I did ten years ago. If you're like me, you start with the dictionary. Incidentally, one of my Confirmation students years back did the same thing, but he picked the wrong definition to put down on a test: "Effortless beauty or style," he wrote quite confidently. I had to laugh - I wasn't asking him about the Olympic ice skating sort of grace!
Here's what we get from glossary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
"The free and undeserved gift that God gives us to respond to our vocation to become his adopted children. As sanctifying grace, God shares his divine life and friendship with us in a habitual gift, a stable and supernatural disposition that enables the soul to live with God, to act by his love. As actual grace, God gives us the help to conform our lives to his will. Sacramental grace and special graces (charisms, the grace of one's state of life) are gifts of the Holy Spirit to help us live out our Christian vocation" (1996, 2000; cf. 654).
Needless to say, there's a whole lot in there. Today I am content to really focus on that first part and the three underlying points I see there. Grace is a gift that is 1) "free and undeserved", 2) given to us by God in order to 3) "respond to our vocation to become his adopted children."
I think there's enough right there to ponder for a lifetime, don't you? I mean really, let's think about this - why in the world would God save me? What could I possibly dream of trying to do in order to earn the God of the universe's attention, guidance and, above all, love for me? I have a hard time letting God into the depths of my heart, of letting him translate what I've come to know on an intellectual level into real, true, flesh-and-blood relationship. I know I'm not alone in this, but I'm responsible to God for my own life - for how I choose to think, speak and behave. But how often to I sort of go along with a view of God as the great judge who's just waiting for me to slip up?
But the picture painted by this beautiful teaching on grace from the Church Jesus established to be his voice in the world is very different. He gives me grace that I could never merit, no matter how holy I ever become! Why? Because he loves me. That should be enough for me. What's it for? So that I will have the tools that enable me to live as he intended me to from before he created one speck of dust billions of years ago.
Here's a thought for the road - before God created anything that has ever existed, he thought YOU up. He loved YOU with all of his infinite love, and every second you live he is breathing you into being from non-being! Let's try harder today to just accept this incredible gift of God's grace and let it work freely in our lives. We have no idea where it could take us (actually we do - it's called HEAVEN!)