Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost --12 October AD 2014

Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English

“I give thanks to my God always for you,
for the grace of God that is given you in Jesus Christ.”[1]

    The Epistle and Gospel today speak of two things that are closely related:  the reality of grace, and the forgiveness of sins.  In fact, it can be said that these two things sum up the earthly mission of our Lord Jesus Christ;  that they point to His reason for becoming one of us and dying on the Cross.  And that reason, of course, was to undo some of the damage of original sin.

    We know that before the Fall, man lived in perfect harmony with God.  He spoke directly with Him and felt His love on a direct and personal level.  Before the Fall man was in perfect control of himself, and was free from the scourge of sickness and death.  These great privileges which man possessed are often referred to as the preternatural gifts that God gave to Adam and Eve.  The word “preternatural” means that these gifts raised man above his own proper nature, making him somewhat like the angels, and closer to God.  But, of course, we know that all this was lost when man in the person of Adam and Eve chose to disobey and reject God.

    But yet, our Lord did become one of us;  did suffer and die for us on the Cross;  and did raise Himself up from the dead.  And by doing these things, He paid the price for our disobedience, and restored, at least in part, the preternatural gifts of Adam and Eve.  By His actions, He obtained forgiveness for us, and consequently He restored us to grace.

    Grace, we learned from our Catechisms, is fundamentally of two kinds;  we speak of "sanctifying grace" and of "actual grace."

    The first, sanctifying grace, is quite special, as it restores some of that direct communication with God that Adam and Eve possessed in paradise.  It restores in some measure that intimate experience of the love of God.  The individual in the state of sanctifying grace can be said to have the life of God dwelling within His soul;  we say that he is a “temple of the Holy Ghost.”

    To acquire this sanctifying grace, we must be free from all serious sin.  Again, we see the relationship of forgiveness to grace.  Our Lord gave us His sanctifying grace in Baptism, both figuratively and literally washing away every stain of sin from our souls.  Through Baptism we joined our Lord in His death and resurrection; death to our sins, and resurrection to eternal life.

    Even after Baptism, whenever we fall from Grace, we can seek forgiveness again in the Sacrament of Penance, confessing our sins to Christ in the person of His priest.  And after a good Confession we can proceed to increase in sanctifying grace through the reception of the other Sacraments, particularly by receiving our Lord Himself in Holy Communion.

    But there is also another kind of grace, the one we call “actual” grace, for it helps us in all the acts we are called on to perform in the cause of our lives; to do what we are required to do according to our state in life;  to do good, and to avoid evil.  Actual grace is all the more important to us in that it is a demonstration of God's extreme generosity    we can receive actual grace even when we are in the state of serious sin.  It is through actual grace that unbelievers are led to believe;  through actual grace that believers are led to Baptism; and through actual grace that sinners are led back to God through sorrow for sin and Sacramental Confession.

    And, of course, actual grace is also for those in the state of grace; to preserve them in that state;  to strengthen them against the temptations of the world, so that they keep themselves free from sin.  And, it should surprise no one that the best way to increase in this actual grace is through frequent Confession (even of venial sins, or sins previously confessed) and reception of the other Sacraments.  For actual grace is also tied to God's forgiveness.

    The Gospel shows us that this forgiveness of sins which is so intimately tied up with grace is something special indeed.  When our Lord healed the man with palsy, what did He do?  Instead of saying something like “arise and walk,” Jesus said to him, “Be of good heart son; thy sins are forgiven thee.”[2]  For Jesus knew the connection between sickness and sin; that this man's sufferings were ultimately the result of original sin.

    Occasionally, almighty God gives his priests the power to heal.  You probably can't find a priest who doesn't have a story about someone whom he anointed becoming unexpectedly well.  But death is a reality we all must face.  And even if God miraculously allows us a few more months or even years, we will one day die.  Yet this is true only in the physical order.  Through the gift of grace;  through the gift of forgiveness;  God has raised us up and restored us to everlasting life.

    He asks only that we seek these gifts, and offer Him our love in return!

“I give thanks to my God always for you,
for the grace of God that is given you in Jesus Christ.”[3]



[1]   Epistle:  1 Cointhians i: 4-8

[2]   Gospel:  Matthew ix: 1-8

[3]   Epistle:  1 Cointhians i: 4-8

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