Summary: All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful.
1.Flannery O’Connor noted that “All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful, “she wrote in 1958. (Adding, “Priests resist it as well as others.”)
She means that grace intervenes in the sufferings of the ordinary -- ignorant, complacent people whose pieties, prejudices and illusions are burned away by a pitiless and savage grace.
God gives His grace to us at His own good pleasure, in His own time and in His own way, but our cooperation with God’s grace is needed.
e.g. 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
We cooperate with grace by keeping the commandments and by repenting when we sin, by making use of the means of grace, prayer, the holy sacraments, penance.
e.g. Procrastination is also a way that we can resist grace, even though some believe that they thrive under pressure. However, Joseph Ferrari, a psychology professor at DePaul University, and other researchers found that procrastinators make more errors in their work, and take longer, and Fuschia Sirois, a psychology lecturer at the University of Sheffield, England, noted that procrastinators experience higher levels of stress, both from leaving things to the last minute and from their own negative and self-critical feelings about their procrastination.
Grace to begin anew.
Hebrews 4:16 says, "Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."
2.And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. God came to live in our neighborhood. God came looking for you and me. The Church is Jesus’ Mystical Body to unleash his transformative power so we can do works of mercy. It’s all about the love of God. If we love him and him in our neighbor, then we are cooperating with grace.
e.g. Janel Perez, a VA “street nurse” and a member of the Los Angeles VA’s Assertive Community Treatment Team, spends her time seeking out the 6,000 Veterans are sleeping on the streets of Los Angeles Veterans in need of care. She does not wear a nurse’s uniform and carries her medical supplies in a backpack.
She works with a multidisciplinary team. She says “We find homeless Veterans in the community and offer them field-based services that include primary care, psychiatric care and social services.
We try to build a relationship with them. Our goal is to gradually get them to accept continued care from us, as well as housing, but the trust-building process can be painfully slow--“It can take two to three months before they even let you take their blood pressure,” she said. “They have to get to know you first. Life on the street is hard, and these Veterans are instinctively defensive. They don’t trust you right away. They have to protect themselves.”
Perez said that convincing a homeless Veteran to accept housing is a major step. “Once they agree to be housed, we determine the best kind of housing for them based on our evaluation of their healthcare needs.”
3. God blesses us at this Mass for the coming year, as our First Reading today from the Book of Numbers, 6:24-26 says: The LORD bless you and keep you! The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace!
And, Jeremiah 29 says, “For I know the plans that I have for plans for your welfare and not to harm you, so as to give you a future of hope.
James 4:15 just asks us to qualify our plans, as the verse says, “You ought to say, "If it is the LORD's will, we will live and do this or that."
The best way to predict the future is to invent it. Zig Ziglar used to say: “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” Imagine where you want to see yourself six months or one year from now, and how best to get to these places.
For someone in alcohol recovery, there is a saying: “The longer I’m sober, the drunker I was.” This person may want to commit to an extra AA meeting in the new year.
St. Paul made travel plans. We can make plans too if the Lord wills it.