Grace: God’s Free Gift


4th Sunday of Lent

Fr. Mark Gatto

Preached: March 10, 2024

Sometimes I feel like an atheist.  When I see or hear the way some Christians speak of God, I think to myself, I do not believe in such a god.  If you were speaking to someone about God and could use only one word, what would you choose?

No word really captures the mystery that is God.  Human language always falls short.  But, we need words to point us to that mystery, to keep us awake to the mystery of God.

One word found in the readings today is the word, Grace.  St. Paul says that “it is by grace that you have been saved.”  Paul speaks of the “immeasurable riches of his grace.”  Grace is free gift.  It is unearned.  Paul says that we are saved through faith and this grace is “the gift of God.”  We do not earn or deserve this grace of God.

Yet, at times we act as though we can earn or deserve grace.  Someone will say, I go to Mass every Sunday, I have not committed any serious sin, I pray regularly, therefore God should reward me, things should go well in my life.  But, love is grace, it is free gift, or it is not love at all.  Love is only true if it is freely offered and freely received.

We cannot bribe God.  God does not demand a bribe from us.  We are loved in grace that is free gift.  We heard that famous passage from John’s Gospel, chapter 3.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”  It goes on to say, “God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”  Why are we so fearful at times expecting that we will be condemned.  God’s will is our salvation.

Where do we find grace?  God is not something in the universe, not one being among things in the universe.  God is the grounding of all in the universe.  God is holding all that exists in this universe.  There is no place where we can go where we are unable to experience the grace of God.  Sometimes people think, I am too great a sinner, I am not praying enough, I have too serious a failing in my past.

There is no environment, no place in which the grace of God is not present.  We just need to open our eyes.  But, as Jesus says, sometimes people love the darkness rather than the light.  Have you ever encountered a family member or friend who has taken a dark turn in life.  Someone married who has become involved in an adulterous relationship, someone who is being greedy and fighting over a will, or someone who has gone down a harmful path with alcohol or drugs.  You might try to speak to that person and shed light on the wrong path they are on.  But, often they prefer to remain in the dark and so avoid the light.

Each of us need self awareness, to be utterly honest with ourselves in letting light to face any darkness in our lives.  Honesty with myself is crucial, to live in light not darkness.

Grace is all around you.  It is free gift being offered by God.  God desires your salvation.  Each day give thanks that you are loved.  Honestly face any ways that are keeping you in darkness, unable to see the immeasurable riches of the grace of God.

When we are speaking of God or sharing our faith with others, hopefully others will experience grace, the utterly free gift of God’s love.

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