Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Path of Grace

The Blessed Virgin Mary is the greatest example of a life of grace. Her grace was so whole and complete that it sets her apart to be chosen as the holy mother of God. The angel of the Lord addresses her as “full of grace”. Nowhere in the Bible do we come across anyone being addressed as being full of grace. We have prophets, great kings, wise men, holy men and women, martyrs, et al; but none of them was ever given such an honor and recognition from an angel from Heaven.

Mary’s reaction to this address is noteworthy. She is “greatly troubled” and does not understand what it meant. Anybody having received such dignified remarks from an angel of God would be elated and inflated with pride. But Mary, on the contrary, is perplexed.

This, at once, brings out the extreme humility of the Blessed Virgin. Never did she think of herself as having any qualities or merit worthy of such praise. The peculiarity of Mary was that she thought that there was nothing peculiar about her. She did not think of herself to be anything special or extraordinary. She was most humbly devoted to the Lord, surrendering herself one hundred percent before God without any reservations.

The example of Mary teaches us that grace flows into only those who humble themselves before God and submit themselves to His holy will. As water flows into a valley, so does grace flow into a humble a soul.

On many occasions, Jesus teaches about greatness of the small.

To the disciples who argued on being the greatest, He says, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be last of all and shall be servant of all.” To James and John, who wanted to be seated at Jesus’ left and right in his glory, He says “Whoever wishes to be great among you, will be your servant, whoever wishes to be first among you will be slave of all.”

While testing the Gentile woman’s faith, Jesus tells her it is not appropriate to take the children’s food and throw it away to dogs. The woman humbles herself – to the point of equaling herself to dogs – and tells Jesus that even the dogs under the table eat children’s scraps. The response thoroughly impresses Jesus and He grants her wish.

Picking up little children and blessing them, Jesus says "Whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” Praising the poor window’s humble contribution, He says “This poor widow put in more than all the other contributors.”

St. Paul vehemently reminds us many times about lowering ourselves in front of God and receiving from Him everything in all humility. “What do you possess that you have not received? But if you have received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” (1Cor 4:7).

St. Paul gladly rejoices in his weakness and exalts God in his nothingness. “If I must boast, I will boast of my weakness… I will rather boast most gladly of my weakness in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.” (2Cor 11:30, 12:9)

He considers all things as rubbish for the sake of Christ, and does not want to be found with any righteousness of his own, but only that which comes through faith. (Phil 3:9) He calls himself the least of all apostles, the greatest of all sinners and a slave of Christ. (1Cor 15:9, 1Tim 1:15, Phil 1:1)

The path of grace is that of humility, simplicity and service. We need the grace of God in all things and especially to live here on earth as His children, submitting to His will and doing His work. Let’s earnestly pray for the virtue of humility, and along with our Blessed Mother and all the saints who lived their lives complete submission and humility say “God has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant!”

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