Experience of Grace

In our everyday knowing of things, of events, of people, there can be an awareness of what stretches far beyond us. Our minds are never satisfied. They open out towards mystery. In this sense, mystery is not simply something we cannot comprehend. It is more the experience of the inexhaustible depths of reality.

Our love also leads us into mystery. The partial fulfillment we experience in our love and commitment to others can open out towards a love that has no limits. There is a boundless expanse to the human mind and heart, and this boundless expanse is always there as the context of ordinary knowledge and love.

On the basis of Christian revelation, which tells us that "God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us" (Rom 5:5), this dynamic openness of the human person can be seen as openness to the Spirit of God, present to us by grace in self-offering love.

Grace in Special Moments

There are moments of special grace in our lives, where the experience of the Spirit is brought to consciousness. These are moments of overwhelming abundance: when we are caught up in the exuberance of life in a forest, when we are deeply moved by mutual friendship, when the birth of a child fills us with awe, moments when we know that all is gift.

There are negative and painful experiences: when loneliness takes hold in our hearts, when we face failure in our projects, when grief seems utterly unendurable, yet we come to know that we have been lovingly held in what seemed hopelessness, emptiness and pain.

Grace can come to us in any moment. We are challenged by an encounter with a homeless person and forced to ask hard questions about our collusion in systems that damage people. We are entranced by the song of a single bird and led beyond it to the Source of all music. We are led to stillness before God in a quiet moment in an empty church or in the midst of the community at Eucharist.

Suffering and Grace

Great suffering can befall us. What faith tells us is that God is not absent but with us in our pain. God does not send us suffering, but the cross of Jesus reveals that suffering is the place of grace, the place of God. Even when we cry out like Jesus, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mk 15:34), we are not abandoned. God is with us, loving us, feeling for us with the divine capacity to be with others in their pain. There are times, even in great suffering, when we can come to know, perhaps only in retrospect, that we have held and loved even in what seemed utterly unbearable.

Suffering is part of this world of natural processes and human freedom. God is made flesh in this world in Jesus of Nazareth, and suffering flesh is eternally embraced by God. In Jesus we see the human face of God, the faithful companion of our lives and deaths, the one who brings us liberation, healing and resurrection life.

Grace Breaks In

Grace breaks in upon us in many ways. A friend or spouse may challenge us about an aspect of our behaviour. We may find ourselves consumed with hurt and resentment towards another and know the call to forgiveness and freedom in Christ. We may find ourselves caught up in a work life of increasing demands and find an invitation to consider what really matters before God. We may be confronted by a person in real need and, perhaps, feel the burden they place upon us, but come to know this as the invitation of grace. Grace is always at work in new ways in our lives. Grace comes to us in the biblical word and the liturgical life of the church, through other persons, animals, special places, words, events, and the workings of our own imaginations, memories, and thoughts. God engages with us in the day to day, inviting, luring, challenging, loving, responding to our choices, concerns, moods, failures, and hopes.

Transformed by the Grace of Christ

In Jesus, the Word made flesh, God has committed God's self to us in love, and done this forever. God will never be God without us. God is forever God-with-us. As St. Athanasius and others have taught us, God became a human creature that we might be become divine, participating in divine life of the Trinity by grace. Through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, we are forgiven, healed and transformed in Christ.

Empowered by the grace of the Spirit, and with Jesus, we address God as Abba-Father (Rom 8: 15). By God's sheer grace, we are made partners with God in God's work of new creation. As part of this, we are called to follow Jesus day-by-day in a gospel way of life, that gives priority to the poor, that is active in peace-making and that is committed to the global community of life on our planet. We are given the priceless gift of profound meaning for the whole of our lives in the good news of God, given to us in Jesus.



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