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March 4, 1994     The Message
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2 The Message --for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana March! . --- The Bible and Beyond-- Lenten reflection: The perfect gift Following is the third of six articles taken from Father John Buckel's book, "Free to Love: Paul's Defense of Christian Liberty in Galatians," distributed by W.B. Erdmans, Grand Rapids. Father Buckel teaches New Testament Studies at St. Meinrad School of Theology. St. Paul the apostle often uses the term "grace" in his writings, a word that is extremely rich in meaning. This term is a transla- tion of the Greek word charts, meaning "kindness," "mercy," and "gift." In Paul's letters the word grace also conveys the idea of love, compassion, and fidelity. Perhaps the most important aspect of grace is that it is associated with a gift which is freely given for the well being of the recipient. Grace should not be considered as an ab- stract, impersonal reality. On the contrary, grace should be thought of in a very personable way. The Belgian theologian Peter Fransen has defined grace as the very presence of God. This notion can be better understood if we examine our relation- ship with a loved one. A close friend is one with whom we want to share: our thoughts, our feel- By FATHER JOHN BUCKEL St. Meinrad Seminary ings, our joys and sorrows. As two people share more and more of their lives with one another, it is said that they become "part of one another." This is true to such an ex- tent that when two loved ones are separated for a great length of time, they feel as if a "part of them- selves were missing." At a time of God's choosing and at his own pleasure, he communi- cates himself to us. We experience his presence within us. We call this "presence" grace. As two friends be- come part of one another, God also becomes "part of us" in a very real way. Where God's presence exists, his divine quali- ties also exist, for example, peace, joy, forgiveness and love. It is this divine presence which motivates us to become more loving individuals. Just as two close friends are able to bring out the best in each Other, so too does God bring out the best in us through grace. Where God's presence exists, people seek to be reconciled with others. They are more aware of the needs and hardships of others. Where God's presence exists, people seek not selfish plea- sure but the will of God. Whenever we feel moti- vated to do a good act, God's grace is at work in us. Whenever we give alms or think of grace is acting within us. Whenever vated to pray we are responding to Gods within us. Grace should always be understood as a cious gift from God. As a gift, grace can "earned" or "deserved" for it would no longer l gift. Grace has that wonderful ability to a person into a more loving individual. Our heavenly Father has not dealt human race as we deserve, thank God! divine response to one of compassion, mercy, and love. person of Jesus Christ who gave sins, God has offered humanity true liberty. tian freedom is God's gift to those who with His Son. In the same way that all loving parent rience great joy in giving to their children, does our heavenly Father enjoy ] senting gifts to his children. God has given the world a the gift of himself. We Christians spond to God's grace by giving heavenly Father and to one another. In we participate in divine love and joy as it were, like God. iutlu)r of 'Playlu)y to Priest,' Father Kenneth Roberts, to speak in Jasper Father Kenneth J. Roberts will be the guest homilist at Forty Hours Devotion March 5-8 at St. Joseph Church, Jasper. Father Roberts was or- dained in Rome in 1966. Prior to ordination, he had a varied background on which he bases many of his talks. He was chief steward for British Airways, Intelligence Officer for the British Army, and in- terpreter on the Queen Eliza- beth ocean liner. He has written an autobiog- raphy entitled "Playboy to Priest" and has appeared on 20/20, NBC Magazine and nu- merous EWTN programs. Father Roberts will preach at all Sunday morning Masses at St. Joseph. He will also have a prayer service Sunday evening at 7. He will talk at the 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Masses on Mon- day and the 8 a.m. Mass on Tuesday. Tuesday evening at 7 there will be a solemn clos- ing service. "The goal of the speaker is to evangelize the Catholic faith and nurture a greater ap- preciation among Catholics for the Mass, the Pope, the Sacraments and the Blessed Mother," explained Mildred Krapf, a member of the Ado- ration Committee at St. Joseph. "Father's underlying thought is to create a better understanding between con- servations and liberals, charismatic and traditional, young and aid." 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