Grace to you!
A man approached a priest and said, “I have worked hard to be a holy person. I go to Mass virtually everyday and I am good at my art. I don’t want to leave any stone unturned so I can earn heaven.”
The man went on and on, while the gentle priest kept silent. When he could not hold the man’s idea of “working to earn heaven” any longer, the priest replied in a calm but powerful voice, “Heaven is by the grace of God.”
Sometimes we forget that heaven is by the grace of God; and no matter how hard we may work, our so-called virtuous acts would have no meaning without the power of God’s grace. Our best without grace can never be good enough.
Have you ever observed a two or three year old baby playing with her toys? She wants to build a beautiful castle with her Legos. She gets to work at it; playing with the Legos the best possible way she could. In her mind, her art is to be more beautiful than any home she has seen.
When she was done, she realizes that “Eh, … it’s still not close to her dream.” She tears it down and begins to rebuild, again and again and again.
All our efforts, without the grace of God, are like a kid building a castle with the Legos. We can never get to the ideal castle, not even close.
We need the grace of God to be holy. We are justified through this grace by faith. It is only in this sense that our works would become worthy. Read how Saint Paul describes this in his Letter to the Romans: “…they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus” (Rom 3:24-26).
Thus, Paul tells us not to boast since justification is not our merit but Christ’s (Rom 3:27).
The Catechism of the Catholic Church elaborates on this teaching reminding us that: “Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life” (CCC 1996).
I will highly recommend for your private mediation to read the Catholic teaching on justification. You can see it in the Catechism of the Catholic Church from number 1987 to 2029. You will find it is nothing short of the biblical teaching on justification, as discussed by the Letter to the Romans and the rest of Scripture.
Be justified. Live the faith. Celebrate this gift you’ve received by grace.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Thursday Week 28 Ordinary Time A: Rom 3:21-30; Lk 11:47-54]
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.