Grace to you!
We can’t get tired of reflecting on grace this season of Advent. Saint Thomas Aquinas was spot-on when he argued in his classic on theology and spirituality (Summa Theologica) that the grace of a single soul (person) is of more value to God than the whole world and all it contains (see S. Th 1-2, question 113, art. 9, 2).
God’s grace comes with unique surprises. Sometimes, it intervenes through those rays of divinity that refresh the soul and gladden the heart. Grace can lift the burden weighing heavy in our hearts and put back the smile of divine peace on our faces. Are you burdened? Connect with grace.
A couple of days ago, a friend shared an incredible testimony of the function of grace and how someone’s burden was lifted by attending Mass. It’s about a medical doctor, who may have been baptized as a kid, but grew up thinking of faith as something for the uninformed. His relationships with those who regard faith in God and going to Church as nonsense reinforced his belief and negative disposition towards the Church.
He is an accomplished surgeon. Though he thought he had rejected God, God has not forgotten him. One day, he was assigned to be one of the surgeons to attend to a very faithful Catholic.
Many times within the one week the patient was to be in the hospital, this surgeon would come for the ward rounds to see how he was doing. The patient would either be praying or listening to faith-edifying programs. By all means, the patient is well accomplished and educated also. Equally, he has great people skills. Gradually, friendship grew between the patient and the surgeon.
One day, as the surgeon came in his room for the routine check, the Catholic patient politely told the surgeon he would love to go to Mass and would be back to the room in 30 minutes. (Though the hospital isn’t a Catholic hospital, it has chapels where people could pray plus facilities for Mass, a wonderful grace-opportunity). Surprisingly, the surgeon said he would join him.
During Mass, the patient noticed that the surgeon was so engrossed in his meditation that he was wondering what was going on.
Back in the patient’s room, the surgeon shared with him what had transpired during Mass. The surgeon’s countenance had changed and his disposition was unusually calm. Something profound had happened to him during Mass.
He claimed he had been heavily burdened by thoughts of a series of experiences he has had over the years as a surgeon. “Many times,” he said, “good, hardworking people are brought in for surgery. Their case may be less critical, and yet they die during or after the surgery. Whereas you see some other complicated cases from people who have really bad record, for instance, gangsters and drug runners. One would have wished they shouldn’t make it, yet they get healed fast.”
He explained that despite his expertise as a surgeon, the evident hopelessness before those who survive (who shouldn’t have survived as he thought) and those who don’t make it (but who should have made it), had been a mounting burden for him. He had never found peace with it.
But when he followed his patient into the chapel for Mass, all of a sudden, he heard a voice speak to him, telling him that God’s will is the best. God has a plan in all those experiences of his. He claimed the voice, though wired, came with such peace he had never felt before. He felt his burden was lifted and that was why he was engrossed in that presence, not wanting to leave the chapel again.
This true live-story that happened here in the USA tells us something about the grace of God. Jesus tells us in the Gospel: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
For this Day 11 of Advent, is there any burden that has made it difficult for us to celebrate the joy of the Lord, how about we intentionally lay it before the Lord at the Eucharistic celebration this week? Much grace comes at Mass.
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.