Grace to you!
Yesterday, we introduced the concept of actual grace as a unique function of God’s favor enabling us to be enlightened and inspired to act Godly in given situations. Those actions produce good results. They are salutary since flowing from God’s favors.
Imagine being one of the listeners, if not disciples, of Jesus and hearing him speak these words: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
Calling Jesus Lord is already an acknowledgement of an aspect of his identity. As Saint Paul said: “No one can say Jesus is Lord” except by the power of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 12:3). Yet in another place, Scripture (James 2:19) suggests even the demons believe in God as one.
My spiritual reading of this takes me back to the function of actual grace in our life as believers. Actual grace acts on our intellect, specifically our mind, and our free will; some (following the tradition of Saint Thomas Aquinas) suggest it also acts on our sensitive faculties. To our mind, it illumines to know with the light of God. To our free will, it inspires to love and choose, as God wills for us. These two combined results to acting holily, and the actions by themselves are good.
When the prophecy of Hosea (4:6) describes the danger of ignorance (“My people are perishing for lack of knowledge”), it could be applied to the reality of poor knowledge leading to poor action. The Lord said, to whom much is given much is expected.
One of my favorite saints, Catherine of Siena, once wrote: “One who knows more, loves more.” (The Dialogue, trans. Suzanne Noffke, The Classics of Western Spirituality; New York and Mahwah: Paulist Press, 1980), p. 126).
Imagine what happens when you get to know your spouse, your friend or even your colleague at the work place better. Maybe the person acts in a way that used to upset you. Then you paid attention and realized he or she had a past that must have caused great harm to his or her disposition. Often, we tend to be more empathetic and loving towards that person. That knowledge has influenced your disposition and love of the person.
A more positive example could be to hear from a third party how someone whom you don’t seem to like has consistently spoken well and lovingly of you. You realized the person truly loves you. Doesn’t that knowledge often impact the way you relate with the person?
I have used common, banal examples to describe the profound grace of knowing and loving. Regarding doing the will of God, the impact of actual grace is so huge in the soul that we can love as with God’s love, and act as God inspires. Such grace-acts, which could be called faith working through charity, or simply works of charity, really place us in the home of peace and life—salvation.
On this Day 5 of Advent, we may like to examine how our faith-life has been? Does it produce fruit of righteousness as the Lord expects?
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.