The Gift Of Grace

Today’s Gospel stands out as one of my favorites. We hear the story of the man who wants to gain eternal life and he asks Jesus what he must do. It’s important to remember here that Jesus can see his heart when he asks this question. He can see that deep down this man wants to know the minimum rules he has to follow in order to get to heaven, but that his heart really isn’t concerned with growing in virtue.

I hate to admit this is me sometimes. Studying theology makes it easy for the faith to be all book knowledge and the virtue stuff kind of falls by the way side. One of my passions to study is morality and this can make that mindset even worse because morality is really the focus on what actions are correct or incorrect.

But as we all know, at the heart of morality is a person. A person who wants a real relationship with us, one of love and not just rules. Now I am not saying that rules aren’t important, but I am saying they cannot be the sole focus. As we read on we hear Jesus say to the man, “Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good.” It is clear that Jesus is telling the man not to focus as much on the laws he must follow and instead put his main focus on the one who will help him follow those same laws.

Rooted in the One who will give us the grace, we can start to live by the ten commandments and we can begin to grow in virtue. It all has to start with God. The man in the story thought he could do it all himself, without any real virtue or grace. So Jesus puts him to the ultimate test and asks him to give up everything and follow. Do I follow in my life? Do you? How often do we try to do it on our own and think that if we just mark the check box by our own power we will attain eternal life? The mark of a saint is humility. They humble themselves to know it is not about them and that they need grace.

I want to end with this great quote from Pope Francis’ new Apostolic Exhortation. It has been helping me so much in my faith life. 

“The Church has repeatedly taught that we are justified not by our own works or efforts, but by the grace of the Lord, who always takes the initiative. The Fathers of the Church, even before Saint Augustine, clearly expressed this fundamental belief. Saint John Chrysostom said that ‘God pours into us the very source of all his gifts even before we enter into battle.’ Saint Basil the Great remarked that the faithful glory in God alone, for ‘they realize that they lack true justice and are justified only through faith in Christ.'”

Let’s ask for the grace to not only enter the battle, but fight and live by the truth in all humility and grace. Amen.

Tommy Shultz is a Solutions Evangelist for Diocesan. In that role, he is committed to coaching parishes and dioceses on authentic and effective Catholic communication. Tommy has a heart and a flair for inspiring people to live their faith every day. He has worked in various youth ministry, adult ministry, and diocesan roles. He has been a featured speaker at retreats and events across the country. His mission and drive have been especially inspired by St. John Paul II’s teachings. Tommy is blessed to be able to learn from the numerous parishes he visits and pass that experience on in his presentations. Contact him at