Thursday, June 20, 2024

Cheap Grace

It can be sad when we recognize the sins of others.  We might be tempted to ask, "Why are they doing that?" or "Why aren't they doing this?"

We can offer prayers and fasting to counter them, but, lest we get too saddened by the sins of the world, we need to remember this . . .

From the cross, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do."

Of course, this isn't an easy pass.  It isn't an excuse.  In fact, our saints have recognized that sin doesn't happen in a vacuum, by accident, or without our knowledge.

But, the reality is, all-to-often, sins (like not going to Mass, gossip or swearing, just to name a few) may be done out of ignorance, or maybe a learned habit that has long ago become an accepted practice, retained without much thought.

I suppose that can be included in the "they know not what they do" part of Jesus' statement.

Jesus offers an incredible act of mercy from the cross, which speaks volumes about who he is, and how great his love is for us.  That, in turn, leads to the revelation that no matter what we have done, or why we have done it, Jesus died so that we may be forgiven.

However, in "The Cost of Discipleship" Dietrich Bonhoeffer talks about what he identifies as "cheap grace," which, in part, is "the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession." 

He goes on to say that "Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate."

In other words, while Jesus begs forgiveness on our behalf, pouring out real grace upon us, it is also important that, recognizing this gift, we accept this grace in our practice of discipleship.

Repentance for our sins is essential as we accept the forgiveness of Jesus, both from the cross, and in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which are, in fact, one sacred act.

Janet Cassidy

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