Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Help of God

1. Both in the natural and in the supernatural order, we are in continual need of the help of God. We did not exist, and God in His infinite goodness created us. It is He Who preserves us in existence from day to day and from moment to moment. The act of conservation is like a continuous creation. If God did not sustain us, we should return immediately to the dust from which we came: Remember, man, that dust you are and unto dust you shall return (Gen. 3:19).

We are continually dependent on our Lord and Creator for our existence and activity. If we remained always aware of this tremendous fact, we would never offend God. We would showHim a filial gratitude and humbly implore His assistance.

We are so poor, and He is so rich. We are so weak and He is so strong. We are blind, and He is the true light which illumines every man who comes into the world (John 1:9). Ask for God's help with confidence, perseverance, and resignation to His holy will. As St. Augustine says, we are the beggars of God.

2. There are several passages in Sacred Scripture which emphasise clearly and effectively our utter weakness and dependence on God. "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves," says St. Paul, "to think anything, as from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God." (2 Cor., 3:5)

Jesus warns us that without Him we can do nothing: Without me you can do nothing (John 15:5). He uses the allegory of the vine and the branches as an illustration of this. I am the vine, He says, and you are the branches. So it is necessary for you to remain united to me, and I to you. In the same way as a branch that does not live on in the vine can yield no fruit of itself, so you can do nothing if you do not live on in Me. If anyone does not remain united to Me he will be like a withered branch which is thrown into the fire to be burned (John 15).

We must remain united to Jesus, therefore, if we wish to do anything good and to merit everlasting life. Otherwise the supernatural life of grace will not be transmitted to us. If Jesus is not there, death comes into our souls. Let us remain close to our Divine Redeemer. If we continue to live in Him, He will give us everything we ask as He has promised: If you abide in me, and if my words abide in you, ask whatever you will and it shall be done to you (John 15:7).

3. Do not think, however, that it is sufficient to ask for God's help in order to do good. There is no doubt that His assistance is absolutely essential; but our co-operation with divine grace is equally necessary. The branch on the vine is not inactive. It derives its vitality from the vine and in its turn bears fruit. In the same way we must nurture the supernatural life which God infuses into our souls so that it will mature in good works.

The essence of a holy apostolate is co-operation with the grace of God. This spirit of generous co-operation must transform us personally so that we may be able to change others. This is how the Apostles and Saints acted; this is how we must all act. "By the grace of God I am what I am," St. Paul tells us, "and his grace in me has not been fruitless --- in fact, I have laboured more than any of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me." (I Cor. 15:10).

Implore God's help with humble perseverance. Be faithful to it in an ardent spirit of sacrifice. This is what it means to be a Christian.

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