Grace in the Christian Faith
Father Matta El-Meskeen (Matthew the Poor)
GRACE is a Divine outpouring gift to the person living in true faith. Grace in Christian faith is a gift aiming at revealing the truth that is in Christ; Christ being the fullness of Divine truth freely offered to man. Our first knowledge of grace was in the person of Christ about whom St John says: “And the word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.”1
Man first got to know the fullness of grace through its outpour onto the Holy Virgin St. Mary while expecting the Word, as the angel announced to her: “Hail, O full of grace, the Lord is with you!”2 When the Virgin felt this Divine fullness from God she cried out proclaiming: “for He who is mighty has done great things for me … For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.”3
Hence through faith in Christ man gained the fullness of grace and of truth, thus becoming qualified, to reach the fullness of the stature of Christ. This gift pouring on to those who truly believe in Christ, was expressed by Christ in His words: “The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them.”4 So that the goal of the grace we received through Christ is to become partners in His glory. Through true faith in Christ we receive the outpour of grace that qualifies us to become partners in Christ’s glory, and eligible to reveal His glory: “Father, I desire that they also, whom thou hast given me, may be with me, where I am, to behold my glory which thou hast given me.”5
Christ’s fullness of grace was given to overflow onto us: “And from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace.”6 This means it is an unending grace, an eternal fullness. The Father made it so, that as soon as we believe and acknowledge Christ’s name we become worthy for the outpour of grace on us: “Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all nations.”7
I beg the reader to deeply note the words: “through whom we have received grace … for the sake of his name.”8 Such is Christ’s name whom those of weak faith fear to utter although it is the faith’s secret power which we publicly proclaim. Grace outpours on to whoever claims it whenever we face troubles or are reviled in Christ’s name. The Apostle Paul established that Divine’s mercy and grace, help whoever move forward steadfastly towards Christ: “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”9 Note that Paul the Apostle finds that God’s throne is the throne of grace, because out of it come all God’s mercies.
Grace’s outpouring power from Christ’s throne has the effectiveness of atonement and justification: “they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.”10
Christ’s grace is the share of the weak who hold on to faith in Christ and is in itself a perfect power: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”11 Therefore the cries of the weak even if they are outside the Church attract grace. We know the Pakistani Golshan’s story who continued to cry out: “Issa Ibn Mariam” (in her words) meaning “Jesus, Mary’s Son” for three years. He came to her Himself and introduced Himself as Jesus Christ healing her from a hopeless case of paralysis. He told her: “Rise” and she stood up whole, then kneeled to Him and consequently the words of “My power is made perfect in weakness” were actually fulfilled. It was the weak one’s persistence that did not cease crying out during three years.
Christ’s grace, as we already mentioned, justifies the person requesting God’s mercy. Christ pays great attention to those who beg for His grace because he knows that it is the hope of life: “but when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.” 12
1 John 1:14
2 Luke 1:28 according to the Vulgate.
3 Luke 1:49, 48
4 John 17:22
5 John 17:24
6 John 1:16
7 Rom 1:5
8 Rom 1:5
9 Heb 4:16
10 Rom 3:24
11 2 Cor 12:9
12 Tit 3:4-7
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