From Seeds of Trust
God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the Heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God – not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. (Ephesians 2:4-10)
The author of the Letter to the Ephesians announces and celebrates the free gift of God’s love. In spite of the fact that “we were dead through our trespasses…, by grace we have been saved,” (v 2:5). For Saint Paul, grace is the foundation of the Christian life. Salvation is a gift from God. We do not earn salvation like a salary after doing our work well. We are saved because God is rich in mercy and tenderness and because “all God can do is give his love,” (Isaac of Nineveh, seventh century).
In the Old Testament, one of the prophets understood well that God loves his people unconditionally – the prophet Isaiah. In a passage read each year during the Easter Vigil, Isaiah says to his people, “Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price,” (v. 55:1-11).
In the New Testament, this love has become a person: Jesus, the Christ. Jesus never spoke the word, grace. But by his actions and his words, by his forgiveness and by giving his life freely, he showed us the depths of his love. And Jesus invites us to live in the same way he did. The free gift of God’s love does not turn us into people who are passive. This love “makes us alive” with Christ, (Ephesians 2:5), and makes us able to dare to give our life for others. Then a miracle can take place in our existence: we begin to love as God loved us. Still more: God begins to love in us. “We are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life,” (Ephesians 2:10).
- When have I had an experience of unconditional love in my life?
- How did this experience affect or even change my life? What other Bible texts, words, or actions of Jesus help me to understand the words of the Letter to the Ephesians, “we are saved by grace,” by the free gift of God’s love?
Breath of God’s loving, Holy Spirit, if we place our trust in you, it is because you lead us to discover this surprising reality: God creates neither fear nor anguish in us; all God can do is love.