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Gratitude and Grace
Gratitude and Grace

Unmerited Generosity

Sunday, November 5, 2023

It is by grace that you are saved through faith, not by anything of your own, but by a pure gift from God, and not by anything you have achieved. Nobody can claim the credit. You are God’s work of art.Ephesians 2:8–10  

By grace you notice, nothing to do with good deeds, or grace would not be grace at all.
Romans 11:6  

Happy are those servants whom the master finds awake. I tell you he will put on an apron, sit them down at table, and wait on them.
Luke 12:37  

Father Richard summarizes the good news of God’s freely-given grace:

I think grace, arising from God’s limitless love, is the central theme of the entire Bible. It is the divine Unmerited Generosity that is everywhere available, totally given, usually undetected as such, and often even undesired. This grace was defined even in the old Baltimore Catechism as “that which confers on our souls a new life, that is, a sharing in the life of God.” We always knew it on paper, but much less by way of experience and therefore inner conviction.

In the parable of the watchful servants (Luke 12:35–40), God is presented as waiting on us—in the middle of the night! In fact, we see God as both our personal servant inside our house and the divine burglar who has to “break through the walls of our house.” That’s really quite extraordinary and not our usual image of God. It shows how much God—the “Hound of Heaven,” as Francis Thompson says—wants to get to us and how unrelenting is the work of grace. [1]

Unless and until we understand the biblical concept of God’s unmerited favor, God’s unaccountable love, most of the biblical text cannot be interpreted or tied together in any positive way. It is, without a doubt, the key and the code to everything transformative in the Bible. People who have not experienced the radical character of grace will always misinterpret the meaning and major direction of the Bible. The Bible will become a burden, obligation, and weapon more than a gift.

Grace cannot be understood by any ledger of merits and demerits. It cannot be held to patterns of buying, losing, earning, achieving, or manipulating, which is unfortunately where most of us live our lives. Grace is quite literally “for the taking.” It is God eternally giving away God—for nothing, except the giving itself. I believe grace is the life energy that makes flowers bloom, animals lovingly raise their young, babies smile, and planets remain in their orbits—for no good reason whatsoever except love alone.

Abundance, largesse, excess are the name of the spiritual game, “full measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over and pouring into your lap” (Luke 6:38). Grace will always be experienced as more than enough instead of a mere survival mode.


[1] Francis Thompson’s poem “The Hound of Heaven” was first printed in 1890 and included in his book Poems in 1893.  

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality (Cincinnati, OH: Franciscan Media, 2008, 2022), 167–169.

Image credit: A path from one week to the next—Loïs Mailou Jones, Textile Design for Cretonne (detail), 1928, watercolor on paper, Smithsonian. Loïs Mailou Jones, Eglise Saint Joseph (detail), 1954, oil on canvas, Smithsonian. Alma Thomas, Red Abstraction (detail), 1959, oil on canvas, Smithsonian. Click here to enlarge image.

This street scene reminds us of the ordinary, loud, multi-colored, sun and shade gift of life.

Story from Our Community:  

Our world needs our spirits, gifts, love, and gratitude for life and creation. It daunts me, though. I am reminded God is with the broken. Every time I ‘shrink’ I am held and embraced in this gentle prayer. —Kathleen S.

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