2 Chronicles 36.14 – 17, 19 – 23
Ephesians 2. 4 – 10
John 3. 14 – 21
“It is by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2: 8
If you lose your job, or business goes down or colleagues give you problems or you are
suffering with sickness or pain or a child is not going in the right path or whatever may be the
sufferings you are in – God wants us to experience the rest of God in Christ Jesus, while we
are undergoing challenging times. Say the Scriptures as Jesus did like – “God is our refuge
and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear” or “But they who wait
for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles”
Have you noticed the types of phrases we use when describing something wonderful? I catch
myself saying things like being ‘over the moon’ or ‘on cloud-nine.’ A friend talks about being
in the ‘seventh heaven!’ Now, that admission may say a lot both of us, but I can’t help
thinking that our deepest experiences are those that have a power to lift us up. Such
experiences take us out of ourselves. They uplift us and we perceive things differently.
It is the irony of self-righteousness that the very good works we thought might get us into
heaven often prove to be those that drop us from grace into the fires of hell.
A man died, and he gets to the pearly gates. Saint Peter is there and he says, “Alright, glad to
see you. Now, it takes hundred points to get in. What can you tell me that would help you
gain the hundred points to get in by the gate?”
The man said, “Well, I always helped the poor. I loved my wife and my children, more than
anything. I coached soccer and baseball. I worked hard and never stole from the company. I
joined non-profitable organizations that raised money to help Food bank and help the
homeless. How many points do I have so far? Peter said, “ Wow that’s all amazing. You
have ten points my dear.”
The man replies, “Only Ten points? Alright! Well I went to church regularly, I tithed and
taught Sunday school. I was Baptized and Confirmed in the Catholic Church.” Saint Peter
says, Ok! Well that’s another half point.”
The man says, “I’ve told you most of the good things I did in my life. Well I forgot couple
more things. I participated in highway road clean-up, I volunteered myself as a runner for
local food drive campaign, I never missed a single Stations of the Cross during Lent. Saint
Peter looked around this man from top to bottom and says, “ Well I appreciate all that, and I
think you deserve another half point.
The man got a bit disappointed and disheartened the way Saint peter’s whole pointing system
and he said, “well I really don’t know what else to say now to increase my credit. At this rate
the only way I can get into heaven is through the GRACE OFGOD.”
Saint Peter says, “That’s right. You got it. You told me what I need to hear. You’ve got your
hundred points. It is only by God’s grace that we are saved. Come on in.”
Grace – What is it? The doctrine of grace is one of the fundamental principles of Christianity,
and it distinguishes the Christian faith from every other religion in the world. And so
Christianity cannot be understood apart from an adequate grasp of grace. Rightly understood
and applied, the doctrine of grace can revolutionize our life.
Grace is God showing His love to you even though you don’t deserve it. Let me give you a
very simple example. One of my friend priest was sharing with me sometime back how he
was stopped by a peace officer for speeding in the city. He said the police officer started
doing the usual process and after few minutes he came to him and said, “Are you on your way
to the church to celebrate Mass father?” The priest said, “Yes sir’, the officer said, “You were
speeding father, You need to slow down and be cautious, Anyway, ‘say a prayer for me’. I
give you a chance , I let you go today. The priest was thankful to God and to the officer. This
is a simple example of how we can understand God’s grace. Grace is God showing His love
to you even though you don’t deserve it.
How can we explain grace?
First and foremost Grace is part of the character of God. Forgiveness, compassion, love,
generosity, sacrifice and kindness are all part of God’s grace, and it is poured our upon all
people regardless of their spiritual condition. Grace is God’s unmerited favour, undeserved by
a person and it is absolutely free! Therefore our efforts to contribute to God’s saving grace
are an effort to Him.
Grace is entirely the work of God and it is rather prompted not merited by a person. We do
not earn it, indeed we cannot earn it. This truth is not easy to believe because we have come
to doubt that anything can really be free any more. An advertisement tells us that we will get
a free pizza, but the small print informs us that we have to buy a large pizza first.
Grace operates on a totally different basis. Grace does not give people what they deserve, but
what God delights to give, in spite of their sin. Thus God’s grace has angered even the
Grace’ ultimate example is seen on the Cross, where Jesus sacrificed his life for his love for
human beings. It is like the gift of blood in the following story. A man on the donor’s cot at a
Red Cross blood donation centre, a pint of life flowing from his arm into the plastic pouch.
Out the window he could see the six storey hospital where someone lay in desperate need of
his type of blood. The two of them would never meet. The gift the man was giving was
exactly that something not possible to repay and with inestimable value.
Jesus is always inviting us to see things differently. When Nicodemus sought out Jesus, he
was in the dark ” both really and symbolically. He couldn’t see clearly. In the years that
followed this late night conversation, Nicodemus became a follower of Jesus and, step by step,
was drawn to see things differently. At last he finally did see. When at the end, Jesus was
really and truly lifted up, Nicodemus was not too far away.
When we meditate on the crucifix and participate in the Eucharist we also see Jesus lifted up.
Perhaps today as I lift my eyes to see him, I might ponder on the mystery of suffering and
exaltation and wonder at the love that is lifted up and draws us ever closer, uplifting us as
well. (Kathryn Williams)
Today’s Gospel teaches us that we are saved by God’s grace only and not by our good works.
It’s so relieving for us, because though we try to do good stuff, we will not always end up in
completing the good work. It’s because we are imperfect people. If we do not understand this
truth, then we will feel guilty all the time internally in our hearts. If God’s love is only based
on our good works, then we do not have any hope of tasting God’s love. Salvation cannot be
earned by us. We cannot be good enough to earn our salvation. Salvation is the free gift of
God. Our Lord Jesus Christ paid the price and purchased salvation for us. Hence, anyone who
believes in Lord Jesus receives salvation as their free gift.
How can we fully describe in words the mercy and the love of God!!
Thoughts to ponder: God has considered our salvation as His first priority. He sacrificed His
only Son on the cross for our salvation. Do we consider God as the first priority in our life?
God has prepared beforehand our way of life. He has already prepared a plan for us, even
before we were born. The famous scripture from Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have
for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you
hope and a future”. You may think, “Then why am I undergoing all these sufferings in my
life?” The plans originally made by God were all good. Either our enemy – the satan, or our
own selves or people around us, spoil it. But God is so capable that He takes all our spoils and
works it out for our bright future!! Even if we have harmed our own life, come back to God.
Never consider your life as a failure. God will remould the clay in your life into beautiful
vessels for Him!!
Jesus’ death was God’s great gift to us, sealed in his blood, not to be repaid, nor arranged for
not for sale nor to be merited in any way. How great the gift of life! How great for us who
have received it!.
In his letter to the Ephesians (2: 8) Saint Paul says, “It is by grace you have been saved.”
God bless. Have a blessed day.