All is Grace
Once a friend who is a lawyer asked me if there is a short version of the “Act of Contrition.” He complained that the traditional formula is too long and he has difficulty in memorizing it. I responded affirmatively and shared a shorter form: “O God, have mercy on me a sinner!” Then I quipped: “Pray this sincerely and you go home justified. Meaning, you’re forgiven.
I saw his face light up: “Thank you padz. Ako ning memorizon kay mubo ra.” (I shall memorize this because its short).
I challenge you: memorize this verse. It’s an alternative “act of contrition.” It is not only short, it is also biblical from Luke 18:13.
In today Gospel (Lk 18: 9-14), Jesus narrates a parable about two men at prayer: a Pharisee and a publican. The Pharisee’s prayer was full of pride and arrogance: “God, I’m so good! You should reward me. I’m doing everything for you. I have made you the center of my life. You see how good am I!”
Instead, the publican’s prayer was “God – I admit I deserve nothing. Just be merciful to me.” Jesus concludes that the man who prayed with a humble heart went home forgiven.
Why? Because whoever humbles himself will be exalted; whoever exalts himself will be humbled.
Our Readings teach us 3 Valuable Lessons:
1. All is Grace
Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio, who earned his doctorate in theology in the Catholic University of America, claimed that he knows of a professor who conducts a survey with his incoming students. He asks this question: “If you were to die today, what would be your entry ticket to heaven?”
He says that 9 out of 10 would answer: Good Character or Good Behavior. It’s the same attitude with the Pharisee. Maybe that is also our attitude: I deserve heaven because I do good!
Here we need conversion – a change of attitude, outlook; a change of paradigm. We need to realize that all is grace!
What is grace? God’s unmerited favor; kindness from God we don’t deserve. Gift from God and the greatest of which is salvation; our sanctification!
The basic requirement of understanding grace is understanding who we are. Reality check: we are creatures while God is God! A theologian said: between God and us there is an “infinite qualitative distance.”
Thus all that we are and all that we have is simply grace of God!
2. God is allergic of proud people
In the Gospel, Jesus is shown to be considerate and compassion to sinners. But to the proud Pharisees, he has strong condemnation and censure.
Pride is a satanic attitude! Lucifer used to be God’s brightest angel. But then he arrogantly became infatuated with himself. Pride is the devil’s #1 vice. Pride results to self-sufficiency which is a completely “anti-God” state of mind. It creates a “we-don’t-need-God” mentality. Moreover, pride is deceptive. It makes us fall into the illusion that we are better than others; that we don’t need grace and we don’t need God mercy. A proud person can never say: “God have mercy on me, a sinner!”
3. Humility is pleasing to God
Humility can disarm God. It can melt God’s heart. In scripture who were God’s favorites? The humble ones.
We can speak of David – this sincere and humble man who upon realizing he had sinned, repented and sat on ashes. Mary was a simple girl from Nazareth. Joseph is an example of a simple working man who was full of faith and humility.
God loves them because they don’t belong to the “mahangin family.” They have no airs. They have no pretensions. I would like to end with this story.
A young man went to an old, wise rabbi. He asked “Rabbi, why is it that people could not see the face of God? Is it because God is so high, He can’t be reached?”
The rabbi replied: “No, that’s not true. People can’t see God because very few can stoop so low. It’s sad but that is the truth. Learn to bend, to bow, to kneel and stoop and you will be able to see God face to face.”
In the end, God’s way is the way of humility – in the Incarnation and in the Cross.Disclaimer: This section of the website is a personal creative writing of the author and does not necessarily reflect the official views, opinion, or policies of the Salesians of Don Bosco – Philippines South Province. For concerns on the content, style, and grammar of this piece, please contact us.