You are not your own
You are not your own. At the heart of Dominican theology is this notion of grace. One of the first heresies in the church that was condemned was Pelagianism. Pelagius believed that we could outweigh our sins by performing good actions.
Or the popular image I think a lot of people have that at the judgment, that God will have this big scale and our good deeds will be on one side and our bad deeds will be on the other, and whichever ways you work determines our faith.
But that’s not really true. It’s not true because it suggests that by good deeds we somehow earn or deserve our salvation. That was the whole reason in many respects that Saint Dominic founded the Order of Preachers, because there are variations on this heresy all over the place.
Saint Thomas Aquinas was the one who probably most fully developed this idea of grace. In other words, that everything we do is moved by our response and acceptance of the grace of God. To put another way, it means our lives are not our own. We are always in a position where we are asking, seeking to discover, discerning, where is God in my life? What does God want me to do? Who is it that God wants me to become?
When we have this idea of grace, what we are really proposing is an idea that it matters how we view the world. With the power of God’s grace and with a faith-filled view, then what it means is that we don’t just see other people. We see Christ waiting to be served. We don’t just see evil in the world. We see an opportunity to work for the good efforts of peace, of strength, of goodness. Such is what Jesus is getting at in the Gospel.
It is not the case that the primary credit goes to us when we do something good. It goes to God because God first poured out the grace. Now, I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t be proud of the good things that we do. I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t recognize the good things that others do. But we always need to remember the primacy of God’s grace in everything that we do. Because in so doing, we begin to become more open to the ways in which God is calling us to be those individuals he has made us to be.
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