Mary and the Economy of Grace
By Father Anthony/Medjugorje USA's Spiritual Director


        Mary, in her visits to Medjugorje,  has time and time again asked for prayers in favor of the conversion of sinners. Why do we need to pray for them? Wasnít the death of Jesus on the Cross sufficient for the salvation of all mankind? The question of the conversion and salvation of our brothers and sisters enters into the theological concept known as ďthe economy of graceĒ. It is what St. Paul referred to when he said ďI am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christís affliction for the sake of his body, that is, the ChurchĒ (Colossians 1:24). This is something difficult to comprehend, not only for Protestants, but for Catholics as well. I will not get into an elaborate and complex type of argument to try to explain this idea, but will rather attempt to bring it across by a simple example.


       God, in His infinite justice, will not tolerate the least insult or sin against His great majesty and glory, whether in His Divine dignity or works (other human beings). All must be reparated. Nothing impure enters His sight or eternal life. All must be cleansed and justified. For this reason, He sent His Son Jesus who died on the Cross and made reparation in His flesh for the sins of mankind. Having a Divine nature Himself, Jesus was in a condition to truly make up for the sins of humanity. Those who acknowledge Jesus and accept His saving grace, will benefit and receive life from the wood of the cross.  Those who refuse Godís salvation will die the second death, which is eternal.


      A crucial question is: will God not give at least a shadow of a chance for those who refuse His grace, in order not to lose their souls? Godís wisdom and mercy has provided a spiritual loophole for these types. He has allowed it through his Church. The following example will illustrate what I mean:


     Let us imagine a thieve who is before a judge for having robbed a grocery store. As  punishment for the crime and the price set to be liberated from prison, the judge determines a fine and bail of one thousand dollars. A friend of his who feels pity for him decides to pay the sum. Sometime later, the thieve repeats his crime and the judge now sets the fine for 1,500 dollars. His friend is offended and angry that the man had returned to stealing and therefore, refuses to help him this time. The friendís mother, however, pleads with her son to show mercy once again. The son accepts, but sends the mother to deposit the money. She herself provides the extra 500 dollars. Once again, the criminal returns to his thefts and is caught by the police. This third time, the judges fines him 2,000 dollars. The mother sorrowfully pleads for the man and begs for patience in his case. The son complies, but determines that it is the last time he will do this. He gives her the money. Once again, she takes 500 dollars of her own money and 500 dollars of family members and friends. The man is freed once again.


      In this story, the thieve is humanity. Jesus died for all of us, but many of us continue obstinate in sin, refusing His graces. The friend is Jesus, who paid the price for our crimes. The mother of the friend is Mary, who pleads Godís mercy for our salvation and conversion. The friends who help her in the third instant are all those who contribute for the salvation of others by their prayers and sacrifices.


  The economy of salvation also works on a personal basis. The prayers I continually offer to God for the conversion of a sinner could actually obtain the grace for someone who would otherwise harm me. If I pray my rosary everyday, I would be mysteriously changing the lives of individuals who might otherwise be future assassins of my family or myself. Their conversion through my prayers also brings security for my own life. Many people who no longer pray allow a sinner to grow in his sins and have him someday take their lives. A nation that no longer prays allows a dictator to flourish who will then chastise that country. A nation that prays guarantees a good ruler. Our own Pope John Paul II was the fruit of the prayers of the whole Church.


Father Anthony Mellace



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