29th Week OT (S)
Getting “something for nothing” seems like a trap. It's a favorite dodge of politicians. Free healthcare. Free tuition. And, btw, your taxes are going up. Salesmen like this one too. Here's a free microwave for buying a car. Oddly, a microwave-sized “service fee” appears on the bill at checkout. Clerics discovered this dodge early on. Sure, God's grace is free. Absolutely! All you have to do to get it is attend Mass once a week; go to confession once a year; behave yourself in thought, word, and deed; and be as publicly miserable as possible to show everyone that you are a terrible sinner. Obviously, nothing the gov't gives you is ever free. You paid for both the car and the microwave. And grace that comes with strings attached isn't grace. Paul writes, “Grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” Christ's gift to us is his life, death, and resurrection. What can measure such a gift?
Nothing. No thing, at least. Nothing created. And nothing anything created can say, do, or think. Christ's gift to us is freedom from sin and death. With that freedom we can still choose sin and death. And we often do. But there is nothing we can do before he gives us our freedom to earn our freedom. No amount of prayer, fasting, or alms giving increases God's love for us. No amount of sin, no matter how terrible, decreases God's love for us. He freely loves us according to His nature. We choose whether or not to receive His love and make use of His gifts. This is why Jesus says – twice –, “I tell you, if you do not repent, you will perish...” Why would he tell us to repent if we were not free to repent? Repentance cannot give us grace to repent. “Repent first, then I'll make it possible for you to repent.” That's nonsense. Repentance is our reception of an already, always given grace. That's freedom. And it's free. It's free to you and me b/c Christ paid the price of perfecting our human nature on the Cross, according to the measure of his gift. If you are stuck in sin and death, here's a question: why? Why are you choosing to be a slave to that which cannot and will not save you?