Tuesday after Epiphany    

            A couple invited me to have dinner in a fancy restaurant. After a pleasant meal, we all agreed that the food was good and the service was excellent. Very much satisfied with the service rendered to us by the waitress, the husband instructed his wife to give a separate ‘tip’ to her. The wife said she would rather call it ‘gratuity’ rather than ‘tip’.

            But the husband commented, “To use ‘gratuity’ in this case is somehow distorting the sense of the word.” “Because a gratuity is something which is given to another freely without any consideration of merit.” “That waitress deserves, or is even entitled to some recompense, because she gave us really good service.” “So, you cannot call it ‘gratuity’ then.”

            God acts gratuitously toward us in the proper sense of that word. St. John, in today’s first reading, makes the point quite clearly when he says that love consists in this: not that we have loved God, but that he has loved us and has sent his Son as an offering for our sins. It is not as if we did something to merit the sending of God’s Son. God took the initiative. While we were still sinners, God loved us nonetheless and manifested that love in a practical way.

            Charles Miller, in his book Opening the Treasures, comments, “It is essential that we recognize that everything we have comes as a gift from God: our lives, our families, our faith, our world – even the energy and talent with which we earn a living on this earth.” Everything is grace… everything is a gratuitous gift.

            Grace has been defined as love in action. However, since it is God’s free gift, grace comes to us on God’s terms. Grace is not the fruit of our prayers and offerings; it is not the result of our efforts to please God; it is not the reward we get for being good and doing good. Grace is the unmerited, unearned, undeserved goodness of God that is showered upon our lives… because God is love.

            We should be grateful that God gives us his grace, instead of what we deserve for our sinfulness. Let us praise God for always giving us more than we are entitled to, and for blessing us with more than we are worthy of.           

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