Grace to you!
Our reflections on sacramental grace continue.
Ever pondered what kind of heart Jesus finds a home? A cluttered heart? The clutter wouldn’t let him in or would it? A heart whose door is locked out completely; even as he knocks, the person isn’t willing to open the door? Recall, the Lord reminds us in the Book of Revelation (3:20), he would only knock. He wouldn’t break in. He respects our privacy and our freedom, which he has given. It’s when he is asked in, that he can come in and dine with us.
A heart that is a home for God is a broken heart, a soft heart, and a heart so tender and human that it hides nothing and it isn’t fixated on something. It’s simply in need of the Holy and Grace-filling visitor, the Lord.
Psalm 51 speaks of that heart, “A humble contrite heart, Oh Lord, you will not spurn.” Elsewhere in Scripture, the Lord makes a promises in response to his people’s need: “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26).
A heart of flesh is tender. It’s soft and in many cases, delicate. Such a heart is a place where Jesus comes and renews and makes a home for the Trinity.
It’s the heart that has the disposition as expressed in the response of Mary to the Angel Gabriel, “I am God’s handmaid. Be it done to me according to your word.” The concept of handmaid is revealing of a disposition of tenderness, obedience and humility.
In the Church, one of the most remarkable places we witness that tenderness and utter innocence, obedience and humility is when we go to Confession. At the confessional, both the great and the small, the famous and the unpopular, the pope and the first holy communion kid, the king and the servant, the wealthy and the pauper, all come face to face with their brokenness and weaknesses. At the confessional, every cover-up and self-importance is submitted to the Lord Jesus so he will grant us the grace of reconciliation and healing.
The grace that comes from the Sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession (as it is popularly called) acts like a weave, though without stiches, binding us anew with Christ, his body the Church, others and ourselves. Thus, the spiritual connection, thanks to the grace of God that exists among the saints, isn’t broken by our sins, especially mortal, grave sins, as Saint John describes them, “those sins that lead to death” (I John 5:17).
Through baptism, we become sons and daughters of God in Christ. We become a new creation, deified by the grace of God. We partake in the life of the Trinity. If we sin, and break away from that which God in Christ has granted us by the justifying, habitual grace we received, we still have a rich supply of divine grace through the Sacrament of Reconciliation to get back on our two feet.
If the Eucharist is food for the soul, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is medicine for the wounded soul, the wounded soldier of Christ. Aren’t all of us wounded? It was encouraging to hear a resounding “yes” when I asked this question in Church recently.
It would benefit us if we see God’s grace as his sustaining favors through every stage; I mean, every aspect of our life where we need him. God pays attention to details. His grace follows us all the way. What else should we expect from the creator of heaven and earth.
For this Day 24 of Advent, may I ask us to avail ourselves the opportunity of regular confession. My recommendation (not the official Church regulation which is at least once a year) is at least once a month, whether you committed a mortal sin or not. I find this helpful in my spiritual life.
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.