Grace and Favor

Like me, you might be overwhelmed at all the hubbub on the Year of Mercy, which begins today. All the plans, documents, suggestions, reflections, actions, initiatives ... and then there's those Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy! There's 14 of them!

Where is one to start?

 There's so much, and, of course, it's all good. Perhaps the angel's words in today's Gospel can calm your fears. "Do not be afraid ..."

And why not be afraid? Any other girl would be daunted at the prospect of so demanding a missionto be the Mother of the Savior.

But he goes on: "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God."

"Favor," from the Greek "charis," most often translated as "grace" in the New Testament. Grace and favor are totally unmeritednothing need be done to deserve mercy. God could have chosen any girl to be the Mother of his Son. He could have chosen me.

He is that merciful.

Being the Immaculate Conception was God's mercy for Mary, and He only granted that once. But what is the grace He has for you?

There's no magic trick to receiving His mercy. But it does take patience to know and time to understand. It's not like you'll wake up the morning of November 20, 2016, with the certainty that you've finally made it. That wouldn't be trust. "Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!" (Romans 11:33).

You see, nothing is demanded of you this year. Before anything else, the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy is an invitation into the Lord's very personal grace and favor, into His mercy. There is nothing you have to do to earn it. It is a total gift. Let Him show you how you've found favor with Him.

Let yourself be found.

Everything else will follow after. As His grace and favor penetrate your life, you will be changed and a spontaneous response will well up in you. You will, in turn, be merciful, and all those 14 works will come naturally. But don't get anxious about doing them.

Start with the basicsjust you and Him. Rest in His mercy. Let Him reveal to you His very particular grace and favor for you.

-Sr. Mary Gemma, T.O.R.

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