It’s a word that all of us are familiar with, but few of us really know its meaning. Is grace simply a rote prayer that we say before we eat? Is it an adjective, describing a pleasant and soothing style? Does it mean beauty and elegance? Or is there something more fundamental about grace that is not captured by any of these modern understandings of the word?
Let me suggest a different understanding of grace, arising out of the most significant event in human history. When the angel Gabriel appeared to the Blessed Mother, his greeting was a simple and profound one. Gabriel simply said, “Hail, full of grace!” In those four words, the whole history of the human race was radically transformed. How? It’s all in the meaning of grace. You see, grace is the undeserved pardon of sin. Mary had grace because the Lord created her without the stain of sin in order to prepare her to respond to his invitation to participate in the Incarnation.
But there is much more. Each of us, as the result of the death and resurrection of Christ, have had our sins remitted, not because we deserve the pardon of our sin, but in fact in spite of of our being unworthy of his saving sacrifice. Like the Blessed Mother, we are totally dependent on God’s grace.
What, then, does grace mean in our lives? Are we to be satisfied with ourselves, presuming that our salvation is merited merely by our belief in Jesus? That is the theology of the Protestant churches, they that believe that faith alone assures salvation. But salvation cannot arise solely from a profession of faith since it is grace, given to Mary and fulfilled by Jesus that saves the faithful.
Have you ever thought of grace in this way? Do you recognize that true grace calls us to action as followers of Jesus? It is not enough for us to be a good person and a regular churchgoer. We must share the message and reality of God’s grace with each other, encouraging those who are willing to enter into the journey that leads to grace.
Are you a minister of God’s grace?