Grace releases the divine element

By | February 16, 2011

The 19th century writer/preacher George MacDonald presents a question that our Scriptures deal with today: “Lies there not within the man and the woman a divine element of brotherhood, of sisterhood, a something lovely and lovable — slowly fading, it may be dying away under the fierce heat of vile passions, or the yet more fearful cold of sepulchral selfishness, but there?”

The answer for the believer has to be a resounding yes! There lies within each of us a divine element which makes us capable of keeping the commandments.

Both Jesus and Moses set before the people a choice: holiness, love, service; or hatred, injuries, grudges, revenge. There is within each of us the divine element to keep the commandments, but also a dark element that makes us capable of dark deeds and death.

St. Paul knew the fierce heat of vile passion. But then something happened in his life (something we call grace) that released the divine element and made him one of the greatest of all apostles.

More specifically, that something was the gift of the Holy Spirit given him in Christ Jesus.

Paul now experienced the fact that he was a temple of the Holy Spirit, that a new wisdom had been given to him, that hope in everlasting life was his. Still subject to the forces of darkness, Paul put all his trust and did all his boasting in Jesus as his savior.

It’s one thing to believe that a divine element lies within each person or the world as a whole; it’s another to bring that element to expression and to perfection.

Moses, St. Paul and Jesus had a double concern: sharing a vision of God’s presence in all creation and calling people to live in accord with the dignity given. Thus we hear: “Be holy” — “For the temple of God is holy, and you are that temple” — “… you must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

All elements of God’s creation are divine, especially the human element.

It is the working of the Holy Spirit that brings them to perfection and purifies whatever is filled with vile passions or cold selfishness.


Bishop Morneau is the auxiliary bishop of the Green Bay Diocese and pastor of Resurrection Parish in Allouez.

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