Grace to you!
Have you received a surprise gift? As you were tossing those junk mails that flood mailboxes, you notice there is one package that stands out. It has no return address disclosing the identity of the giver. So you can’t guess who thought about you as to send you a gift.
By the time you started to open the gift box, you sensed it could be a real surprise. It’s wrapped inside with the most beautiful ribbon you have ever seen. You unwrap the gift; it’s a diamond from your spouse or a friend. Plus the kindest words you have heard in years. The giver wanted to surprise you as you celebrate a memorable day in your life. I suspect, your excitement will know no bounds.
Spiritual life is like a wrapped gift. The recipient isn’t aware or fully aware of what is inside. However, the package has so many incredible things inside. First in line of those packages (every spiritual blessing with which we are blessed in the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3), is sanctifying grace, which we have been reflecting on since two days ago.
Sanctifying grace (also called deifying grace, as we mentioned yesterday) is a wrapped gift, a package with assorted surprise gifts inside it. During our Baptism, we received a permanent disposition to God’s life and to act Godly. “Sanctifying grace is an habitual gift, a stable and supernatural disposition that perfects the soul itself to enable it to live with God, to act by his love” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2000).
This habitual state of the soul, thanks to sanctifying grace, is what Catholics mean when we say “being in a state of grace.” It means there is nothing impeding this habitual state of holiness. No grave choices (unrepented and unconfessed mortal sin) opposing God and holiness stands in its way or mires it.
Similarly, the gifts packed by the Lord when we receive sanctifying grace are many, beginning with the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity, each of which virtues are necessary for our spiritual growth. Those virtues are infused into our souls, not by our merits, but by God’s grace. They open doors to other gifts of the Christian life.
For instance, “without faith,” Scripture says, “no one can please God” (Hebrew 11:6).
A story from the Gospel reading of today (Luke 5:17-26) shows how faith is key to redemption from Christ. Jesus saw the faith of those who brought a cripple on a stretcher from the rooftop down to where he was, and granted the man, not only forgiveness of his sins, but healing from his cripple.
The first gift of faith we receive comes from the sanctifying grace of God. During Infant Baptism, the minister asks, what does this Baptism bring? And the response is faith. Hence, sanctifying grace is the door to faith.
Then the faith grows each day through other means. Our Savior Jesus Christ enriches us from the other sacraments of grace, especially the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation through which our sins are forgiven. In addition, prayers and works of charity enable us to fan into flame the gifts we have received.
For this Day 9 of Advent, we may ask ourselves; to what extent have we identified the gifts with which the Lord Jesus Christ has blessed us? Intentionality in knowing and using our gifts helps the Christian life to mature.
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.