Grace to you!
God's purifying grace isn't complicated. God's salvation is the simplest thing ever to human progress and redemption.
The story of Naaman, a Syrian Army general who was suffering from leprosy as recorded in the Second Book of Kings 5:1-15b quoted by the Lord in Luke 4:24-30, is an example. Naaman, coming from a world with a different religious belief, believed that a miracle of healing has to be complicated. He wanted the prophet of the true God to do some magical incantations and ask him for difficult tasks. Perhaps, so he can feel he earned the healing. He is like us when we tend to believe that our efforts and the rigors of our human-made mechanisms determine the extent God responds.
But, the grace of God, the sanctifying grace or the grace to make good, holy choices at each moment called habitual grace, aren't like that. God's grace is the simplest and most available gift to anyone. It is like the river overflowing and watering all who open the garden of their hearts to it.
Take, for instance, the grace flowing from Baptism, the great sacrament of Christian initiation. The minister pours or drops some water upon the candidate. He announces, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." As simple as this, it makes the baptized a new child of God. The person is automatically elevated to the status of a new creation, someone born anew in Christ. It isn't complicated.
By the power of God, the most pure and simple miracles of incredible grace occur.
The Eucharist is another example. For us Catholics, we believe that the simple prayer of consecration over the bread and the wine makes the substances become the Body and Blood of Christ. It is so because we announce and do what the Lord Jesus has told us to say and do. Since they are his work, his word, those become changed as the Lord says. Our mysteries are powerful and not complicated.
Another example is Confession, appropriately called the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Through it, we receive mercy, grace, healing, and reconciliation with God. We are also made whole in the body of Christ, the Church. As the last words of the prayer of absolution—prayer decreed over a sinner by the priest—is announced, we are healed. "I absolve you from your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." It isn't complicated.
It is, for me, incredible news of joy to hear the simplicity of the Good News and God's saving grace. That grace awaits you and me. It flows, inviting us to come and drink and be filled, satisfied.
I pray that during this lent, the power of the Holy Spirit may heal us. May grace be abundant in our lives. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
[Monday, Lent, Week 3: 2 Kings 5:1-15b; Lk 4:24-30]
Grace to you!
Providence – that divine purposeful craft that sets things on course for the fulfillment of God’s plan in our lives – is a powerful grace. Discovering it opens a new vista to us. Embracing it smashes all doubts, providing unimaginable resources for us to be happy and reach our destinations.
Those who live by providence see the finger of God in all things and in everything. Where it seems gloomy, sullied, dark and bleak to many, everything seems like a network of pleasant roads. The child of providence sees roads in history, in historical events and figures as well as things as they happen, not to mention the unknown which is embraced with unequalled sense of optimism.
I believe in providence. It has built me into who I am and I guess you!
With the eye of providence I look at Joseph—known in our Latin rite as Custos Ecclesia (the custodian of the church) for the role he played in protecting the Child Jesus and Mother Mary from the moment of Jesus’ conception to the time the Lord took Joseph home.
I believe, this is up for your discernment, Joseph’s life and role in the Holy Family of Nazareth (Jesus, Mary and Joseph) was a long journey of Lent. On this Day—29 of our Lenten Reflections, the feast of Saint Joseph, it will be wonderful to see how Joseph’s “Lent life,” as I will call it, reveals to us divine providence.
Lent is an opportunity to master our passions—lust, fame and ego so as to be in service of Christ and one another. It’s also a time to accelerate our commitments to righteous deeds. Joseph, from day one of his relationship with Mary, gave up the legitimate satisfaction of sensual intimacy, allowed the crushing of his fame and ego as the man of the house and like his step-son-Jesus, learned obedience through suffering.
Isn’t it glaring that little was written in Scripture about this great man? Subsequent generations would omit his name in the Second and Third Eucharistic Prayers of our Catholic Mass also. Thank God Pope Francis intervened few years ago, by instructing his name be included where omitted in the Eucharistic prayer.
Saint Joseph is a true model of Lent—taking after the Child Jesus whom he served and protected.
May we learn from Joseph and ask the Lord to help us see beyond the hurdles of dealing with our passions so as to see what providence is offering.
Pray with me: Lord, let us learn from the life of Joseph how to surrender to your will and trust in your providence. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Saint Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary: 2 Sm 7:4-5a, 12-14, 9, 16: Rm 4:13, 16-18, 22: Mt 1:16, 18-21]
Father Maurice Emelu, Ph.D., 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 and inspiration. They are designed for a general audience. They may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons.