Monday, April 27, 2009

Monday of the 3rd Week of Easter

Good News Reflection
Monday of the Third Week of Easter
April 27, 2009

Today's Saint: Zita

Today's Readings:
Acts 6:8-15
Ps 119:23-24, 26-27, 29-30 (with 1ab)
John 6:22-29

Becoming full of grace

Was the Virgin Mary the only human who was "full of grace"? In today's Gospel reading, we see that Stephen, too, was full of grace! Think of "grace" as the activity of God made present in a human person — including you — by God's choice. This activity or presence supplies us with whatever supernatural gifts are needed at that moment.

Being full of grace means being totally and completely open to these gifts and united to God's presence within us. When we're in a "state of grace", we are free of sin and detached from everything that is not of God.

We become "full of grace" during the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The True Presence of Jesus comes to us in the form of the priest, who sits in for the whole community that was wounded by our sins. Jesus takes our sins, nails them to his cross, absolves us of the punishment we deserve, and begins to heal the divisions that our sins have caused.

The completion of the healing still requires action from us, but in this Sacrament, the action of God is a grace-filled and grace-filling experience: It empowers us to change and to make amends and to avoid repeating the same sins. It's a more powerful experience than seeking God's forgiveness outside of the Sacrament.

Another opportunity to become full of grace is during Mass. It starts when we accept the invitation of the presiding priest to recall our sins and seek Christ's mercy. It continues through the insights that the Holy Spirit gives us from the Word of God and from the homily that explains it. The "Our Father", prayed in unison with the community, furthers the healing. Giving each other the "Peace be with you" handshake or hug helps to heal us from the brokenness of community life that our sins have caused.

By the time we see the miraculous True Presence of Jesus on the altar, we have encountered his grace in many ways. We open ourselves to the fullness of this grace by honestly praying, "Lord, I am not worthy to receive You, but say the Word and I shall be healed."

Then, receiving the Eucharist is receiving our full unity with God and with the community.

If you cannot receive the Eucharist due to special circumstances, and if you're not stuck in an on-going, unrepented sin, your prayer of "Lord ... say the Word and I shall be healed" is your moment of being filled with grace. You receive Spiritual Communion. But do everything possible to receive the fullness of Christ in the Eucharist. Talk to a priest about remedies for your circumstances. The Church has ways to help you open yourself to all that God offers.

Whenever we consciously remain stuck in sin, we're choosing division over communion. Please don't continue pretending that you're not really sinning. Purifying our lives is hard, but God gives us supernatural help through the awesomeness of his grace.

© 2009 by Terry A. Modica; All Rights Reserved.
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