Today’s powerful passage from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans reveals what some have called the “heart” of the gospel: that we are made right with God not by our own efforts but through the free gift of God’s grace which we receive through faith. All has been done for us in the costly death of Jesus; we need to receive the gift of the Lord’s mercy, his “plentiful redemption,” as the psalm says.
This is easy to say, but somewhat difficult to live! We all have a tendency to want to “do for” God, to grow closer to God by way of our own efforts, even to earn forgiveness on our own. Today’s saint, Teresa of Avila, helps us in this regard. In her autobiography, entitled Her Life, Teresa lists a number of obstacles that prevented her from making progress in the spiritual life. The third obstacle she lists is “self-reliance.” Teresa insisted on the need to trust God for everything and to be cautious about “doing things” for God. Yes, by all means, we need to cooperate and say “yes” to the grace and inspirations that the Lord gives us. But everything is a gift of God—including our good inspirations.
Recently I received a helpful way to look over the day, to examine whether I’m “on my own” or living in the gaze of God’s grace. At any point in the day, I might ask: “Well, Lord, has it been ‘me’ or ‘we’ so far today?”
May St. Teresa of Avila encourage us to trust God in everything!
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