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Home » Daily Readings, New Testament Writers

Grace and Prayer

Submitted by on Thursday, 9 October 2008No Comment
  • Reading I: Galatians 3:1-5
  • Resp. Psalm:  Luke 1:69-70,73
  • Gospel Reading:  Luke 11:5-13

"Napakatatanga naman ninyo, mga Galateo!" That is the way I would translate the Galatians 3:1 It is a cry of disappointment.  Paul had taught the Galatians to put their trust in God and in the good news about Jesus, not on laws.  For him, the greatest symbol of the gratuitousness of God’s grace is the cross of Christ "who loved me and gave his life for me."   But in his absence, they have embraced a gospel that put observances, regulations and sacred times between the Galatians themselves and the grace of God in Christ.  And that goes against the grain of all that Paul had taught them.

"Grace" is first of all something gratuitous.  It is undeserved but still given.  It is a gift, given simply because.  It has always been the conviction of the Church that the first grace (conversion), the "ongoing" grace (perseverance), and the conclusive grace (the beatific vision) are all from God.  The sinner who puts himself under the mercy of God in conversion, the initiate who allows him/herself to be led along the ways of the Spirit, and the saint who beholds the face of God — all these are products of God’s hand, His poemata

The foolishness of the Galatians consists in the fact that by embracing a gospel that made them Jews first before being Christians is to allow themselves to fall into slavery.  Christians have received the Spirit of sonship that makes them co-heirs with Christ, not with Abraham.  Only a Jew like Paul, passionate for freedom, could have said:  "when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption (Galatians 4:4-5)".  The Jewish spirituality that Paul was trained in is a continuing exodus:  the move away from the bonds of slavery (Egypt) to the freedom of the sons of God (Promised Land) .  In between this trajectory, the Law (Sinai)  was a training ground.  Paul realized however the inability of the Law to empower Israel to rise above himself.  Israel kept falling back despite the Law and the prophets.  In the end, God had to recreate Israel out of "his Son" so that through him a new people may come forth.  The Galatians were a part of this "new people" born from a son’s obedience to the Father’s will. They did not come from a slave as was Israel who had to be trained to be a freedman through the discipline of the Torah.   They came from the Son, that is, from someone who was ever since the beginning already free.  All they had to do is to live from the Father’s bounty and according to the dignity conferred by their received sonship.  To live in the freedom of the spiritual sonship received, not by the laws imposed by another. The rest of Paul’s epistle underscores the powerlessness of the Law and the triumph of Grace in Christ.

handsinprayer2 Since all is grace — as Georges Bernanos would put it — then all can be received in prayer.  And this is the point of the day’s gospel.  Prayer, Augustine once said, is the desire of the heart.  "The greater one’s desire, the louder is one’s prayer."  But the desire that Augustine speaks of here is not the libidinal one that Paul would consider "of the flesh".  It is the desire of a rightly ordered love, much like the love of Jesus, the Son, to His Father.  If one loves the Father as Jesus did, would one be denied one’s earnest requests?

Read an explanation of the Gospel reading here: The Disciples’ Prayer
Galatians 3:1-5
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
1O senseless Galatians, who hath bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been set forth, crucified among you?
2This only would I learn of you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
3Are you so foolish, that, whereas you began in the Spirit, you would now be made perfect by the flesh?
4Have you suffered so great things in vain? If it be yet in vain.
5He therefore who giveth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you; doth he do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of the faith?
Luke 1:69-70,73
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
69And hath raised up an horn of salvation to us, in the house of David his servant:
70As he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets, who are from the beginning:
73The oath, which he swore to Abraham our father, that he would grant to us,
Luke 11:5-13
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
5And he said to them: Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight, and shall say to him: Friend, lend me three loaves,
6Because a friend of mine is come off his journey to me, and I have not what to set before him.
7And he from within should answer, and say: Trouble me not, the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.
8Yet if he shall continue knocking, I say to you, although he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend; yet, because of his importunity, he will rise, and give him as many as he needeth.
9And I say to you, Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you.
10For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.
11And which of you, if he ask his father bread, will he give him a stone? or a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?
12Or if he shall ask an egg, will he reach him a scorpion?
13If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father from heaven give the good Spirit to them that ask him?

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