Written by Sr. Rosemary Finegan, O.P.
Readings from: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/102219.cfm

In our first reading, St. Paul wants us to picture Adam and picture Christ.  One is the beginning of time, the other the end time.  Paul continues to contrast both these prominent figures of our salvation history because the world was changed forever by these individuals. Adam had a negative effect on the world, and we know it as sin.  Christ, however, brought life.  After making all the comparisons, Paul says: ‘Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more’. Paul uses the word 'grace' as shorthand for the entire event of Jesus Christ and His ministry. Through Christ’s life, death and resurrection, we share in the very life of God, and we know this as grace.

Someone has said, “Grace is everything for nothing to those who don’t deserve anything.”  I’ve also seen the word ‘grace’ used in an acronym: ‘God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense’. Our catechism says this: ‘Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God and partakers of eternal life.’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1996).  One of the best-known definitions of grace is only three words: God’s unmerited favor. Pope St. John Paul II, whose feast we celebrate today, said this about grace: “Grace has the power to make straight the paths of human love.”  (Love and Responsibility, p. 140) All this is ours because of Christ.

I have a confession to make.  A few years back, in Brevard County, I was pulled over for having an expired car tag.   Actually, it had just expired the week before this.  The Officer approached my car, wanted my license and registration, then went back to his car and radioed in the info.  I tried to tell him I hadn’t gotten a notice about the registration.  Forget it. I got a ticket and ended up paying $108 as a penalty.

Later I wondered “what if he had shown me grace. What would that look like?”  So I replayed the same scenario:  Officer pulls me over, comes to my car and gets his info, goes back radios it in. But now he just gives me a warning and lets me go. But no, that’s not really grace.

No, grace would look like this scenario: the officer comes back to  my car, reminds me of what I had done, writes out the ticket with the fine being at the full amount, and hands it to me.  Then, he reaches out and takes the ticket back. He signs his own name on the ‘guilty as charged’ line, turns the ticket in with his name on it, and pays the full amount of the fine with his own money. Yes…that is what grace is.

This is what God has done through his Son Jesus who took our crimes upon Himself, put Himself in the ‘guilty as charged’ spot and paid the penalty of death. Undeserving as we are, and that we may have the opportunity to dwell with Him for eternity, God in His unconditional, unending love, has offered that grace to us, that is, “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense”.