Thursday – By the Grace of God
In today's first reading, St. Paul is very clear about how he became an apostle. “But by the grace of God,” he says, “I am what I am...”
By the grace of God... By the grace of God, we are Christians. By the grace of God, we pray. By the grace of God, we do works of love. By the grace of God, we repent when we sin. By the grace of God, we proclaim our faith. By the grace of God, we live our faith. By the grace of God, we make good moral choices. By the grace of God, we read and study and meditate on His Word. By the grace of God, we grow ever closer to God and know Him better and love Him more.
Indeed, God's grace is at the heart of everything good we do and everything good we are. Our job is to cooperate with that grace, to open ourselves up to it, to accept it and let it work in us, to avoid getting in the way and blocking its action with our stubbornness, to realize that we do nothing good on our own but only with God's grace.
As Paul says, “His grace to me has not been ineffective...I have toiled harder than all of them; not I, however, but the grace of God that is with me.” Paul knows exactly Who works within Him to accomplish everything he has done in his mission, and he gratefully embraces God's amazing grace. We should do the same.
Friday – The Resurrection
The word “resurrection” is so commonplace among us Christians that we seldom pause to think about what it really means and how amazing resurrection really is.
Jesus was dead. There was no doubt about it. He died on the cross. His soul left His body. The soldier pierced His side with a lance. His disciples wrapped His body in burial clothes and placed Him in a tomb. The hours turned into days.
And then, suddenly, Jesus was alive. By His divine power, His soul was reunited with His body, and His body was transformed into something still very much human but also something greater than what it had been. He still ate and drank, but He also walked through locked doors. His resurrected body was under the complete control of His soul. He wasn't a ghost. He didn't have a mere half life. He was more alive, body and soul, than ever. His life had been raised to new heights.
This is the resurrection. Jesus once was dead but is now abundantly, amazingly alive. On this resurrection, as St. Paul says, our faith depends. On this resurrection, we place our hope, for one day, in God's perfect time, we too will experience resurrection. We too will experience life in its fullest form, side by side with Jesus.
Saturday – Looking Forward
Today Paul gives us a glimpse of what our resurrected bodies will be like. Listen again to what he says:
“It is sown corruptible; it is raised incorruptible.
It is sown dishonorable; it is raised glorious.
It is sown weak; it is raised powerful.
It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual one.”
Incorruptible, glorious, powerful, spiritual. We can hardly grasp that with our limited human minds. But we've been told what Jesus' resurrected body is like, and we actually receive that very body every time we receive the Eucharist. So we certainly have at least an inkling of the awesomeness our future will hold if we spend our present holding onto the One Who is the first fruits of the resurrection.