September 27, 2017
Fr. Roberto M. Jorvina
As God’s people, we really have not tapped in to what is available to us. The Spirit of God is willing to move and to do great exploits and great works as great, and even greater than the works that we have read in the Word of God. There was a metal axe that just floated; two men were able to subdue a great army of Arameans that surrounded them because there were chariots of fire. There was leper that was healed in the Jordan River when there were better rivers in Syria. These are not just stories to read as history, but they are contemporary events happening right now in our lives.
Sometimes when I would walk, I would wonder where I would get my transportation fare, and then suddenly, there is more. Where did it come from? From the same God who sent the ravens to the prophet when there were three years of famine. There was no food, but the prophet was fed sent by God through the ravens. These are things that God wants to do in a normal, ordinary way, which is part of our lives.
In the Book of Acts, in the day of Pentecost, the Church began to grow from twelve to one hundred and twenty, to five thousand, to another three thousand added, to suddenly to more than about 8,000 people. The Church grew in just a short span of time, and as the Church began to grow, there was this incident with one of the disciples called Stephen. He was stoned to death because the Jews were very much against in what he was trying to say.
As this was happening, there was great persecution and Christians began to flee from so many places. At that point, it was only in Jerusalem that the Christians were gathered and they were found there because they started as Jews, as people who were practising the Law of Moses. As they began to spread because of persecution, they settled in many places and one of the places was in Antioch. In this place, something happened that was not the norm or what they expected. The Christians were there to minister to their fellow Jews because they thought that it was only those people called Jews that salvation was available to. Their whole mind set was that if you were not a Jew, you cannot be saved.
Something happened in Antioch following what happened in Caesarea. In Acts 10, Peter suddenly saw this vision and there were different kinds of animals that came forth. The Spirit of God told them what they are going to do. Peter began to minister and he went to a house of Cornelius. In Acts 11, there was this move of God in Antioch. Verses 19-21 says, “So then those who were scattered because of the persecution that occurred in connection with Stephen made their way to Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except to Jews alone. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Greeks also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord.” These were not Jews anymore. They were amazed because people who were not Jews or God’s chosen received the Spirit of God. Verse 22-23, “The news about them reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas off to Antioch. Then when he arrived and witnesses the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord.”
Being witnesses of the grace of God is a basic truth that many failed to see because we live in a day and age of accomplishments. One needs to do something to gain something or to earn something. This is not wrong, but we’ve got it inverted. We thought that we have to be the first to do something, not realizing that there was an action even before our own action. There was already something that happened even before we were born, which is called God’s grace.
What is grace? Grace is an acronym for God’s Resources At Christ’s Expense. All of God’s grace is because of what Christ did – not our own works, not our faith. Our salvation is not based on merit. We did not do anything to earn salvation. In Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace, you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as result of works, so that no one may boast.”
God made the first step; it is His grace; it is His way of sharing that we don’t need to do anything to earn it. Grace is something that we do not merit. It is a favor given for no reason or for what we have done. It is the graciousness of the giver. This is God’s grace. From Ephesians 3, when St. Paul was commissioned, he said, “I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace.” St. Paul did not deserved to be an apostle, but God made him so. It was a gift of God’s grace given through the working of God’s power. Paul says, “Although I am least of God’s people, this grace was given to me, to be an apostle, to preach to the Gentiles the boundless, unfathomable, unsearchable riches of Christ, to make light to everyone the administration of the mystery which for ages past was kept hidden in God who created all things.” God’s intention and purpose was that through the Church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known through the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.
Through the Church, this grace is now ready to be shared to others. We are being called to witness this grace. Think of your life for a moment. There are many things that we have failed in, and yet, God saved us. He is not counting on how many times we have sinned. God’s resources were at the expense of the Cross. We were given the privilege to use these resources so that now, like Paul, through the Church, we can begin to share the same grace, through Christ.
Last Sunday’s gospel was all about the laborers in the vineyard. There were those who were hired at the last hour, but who came at the first hour. They did not have the assurance that they will have work and get paid and have something to bring home to their families. At the last hour, grace knocked at the door of their lives and said, “Come to my vineyard and work.” Maybe, he expected to receive a few coins, but he received a denarius. It is the grace of God that is so powerful. The labourer did not do anything, but God provided.
Grace gives you the ability to work and to respond to the love of God. It is God’s grace that gave us our family. We are what we are because of God’s grace.