Monday, May 27, 2013

Understanding Grace

Grace is a gift freely given to you. It is a no-strings attached offering of pure and unadulterated love given for no other reason than that the giver wishes you to receive it.  So how is it that Catholics accept that both faith and salvation come to us as graces and yet believe that we must work in order to benefit from these?  Allow me to explain.

Rain is grace.  It comes when it comes, without you doing anything to make it happen. It is free to receive and freely offered.  There are no conditions you must meet to experience rain.  However, if you wish to capture these graces so that you might benefit from them for a longer period of time, you have work to do.   You must prepare yourself by setting out a bucket or barrel to capture the rain. You must place a filter over that bucket or barrel to ensure that only the clean rain gets in and not the debris that the might mingle with the rain.  When the rain stops, you must go out to that bucket or barrel regularly and dip into it to drink from the water.  The gift is free, but how much benefit it is to you is entirely dependent upon what actions you take.

Another analogy is a gift that I might mail to you.  The gift is free. Nothing is required for you to do in order for me to give it to you.  I offer it to you simply because I care about you and want you to have it.  It will appear in your mailbox without you doing anything at all.  However, in order for you to benefit from that gift, you must take several steps.  You must walk out to your mailbox, remove the gift from the box, unwrap the gift from its package, and then use the gift that I send you.  In other words, although the gift is free there is work you must do in order to take advantage of that gift.

The gifts of faith and salvation come to us from God. We don't have to do anything for them to be offered to us. God loves us enough that He wants us to have both of them, and He does this without us having to meet any qualifications or be perfect.  In fact, we can't be perfect without these gifts and He knows that.  This is why He wants us to receive them.

However, in order for us to take full advantage of those gifts, we have some work to do. This work is to first accept the gifts, then to grow in our knowledge and wisdom regarding how best to use them by studying Scripture and listening to the counsel of the Church, then to take these gifts and share them with others.  If we do not do these things, it is like leaving the gift in the mailbox or allowing the rain to simply pour down without collecting it. The gift was offered, but we gained no benefit because we didn't do anything to activate the gift.

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