God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work, (2 Corinthians 9:8).
Grace is powerful, plentiful, essential and effective. Through the gift of faith, we receive this unearned, undeserved gift of God’s love manifested in Christ’s salvation.
We need never fear the Author of Grace who seeks us out with a love that no power on earth can weaken or destroy. Driven by his unconditional love, he pursues a love relationship with us. By his nature he pours out his love. He can’t not love what he created.
That is why he is still alive in the world today and why so many love him. People still renounce their possessions out of love for him, still surrender everything to him, and still build their daily lives around receiving his life in the sacraments. His pursuit of us makes him a sign of contradiction in our times. Few people are neutral about him. They either intensely love him or hate him. Still he pursues us, pouring out his love, offering the grace of salvation until our last breath.
Grace is not necessary to begin a good work, but essential to carrying it on through obstacles to completion. God prepares us in advance to overcome these obstacles when we are receptive to his grace. Without grace we can do nothing; with grace we can do anything that God plans for us.
With God’s grace, no trials are too much and no enemy too strong to weaken his power. Thomas A. Kempis wrote, “What am I without grace, but dead wood, a useless branch, fit only to be cast away?”
But what are we with grace? St. Thomas Aquinas gives us five effects of grace:
1. Grace heals our soul. “Grace is a glow of soul, a real quality, like beauty of body. Grace is nature’s perfection,” he writes.
2. Grace gives us the desire to do good. “Grace responds to the deepest yearnings of human freedom” (CCC 2022), which makes us aware of our own purpose and compels us toward total self-fulfillment. Jesus pours out his grace, giving us the power to choose to do good, to choose to be free, to choose to fulfill our destiny as children of God.
3. Grace works effectively through us to carry out good. “Grace is a participation in the life of God” (CCC 1997). When we live a life of grace we live for God as we fulfill our unique purpose in the kingdom. We eagerly receive what we can never deserve but what he graciously allows us to take part in: the life of God. That power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.
4. Grace gives us staying power to keep going. With grace comes courage, resilience, and resoluteness despite our fragility, weakness, and sin. “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness” (1 Cor 12:9).
5. Grace enables us to break through to glory. St. Thomas writes, “Grace is in the soul’s substance, granting a new kind of spiritual being, rendering it like God and a partaker of the divine nature.” The truest sign of grace in us is our willing dependence on God. Our surrender to his will is the best way to glorify him.
Make Christ’s love your own. Believe that he loves you more than you could ever imagine. Accept and embrace God’s love for you. Love is who God is. You can’t make him stop loving you, even if you never surrender your will or cooperate with his plan. But you can allow him to empower you with his grace by opening yourself to all he intends for you.
How is God's grace active in your life?
(© 2013 Nancy H C Ward)