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On Divine Grace and Free Will

1. Just as the beginning of any virtuous disposition is implanted within us by the special will of God, it is He Who gives us help toward accomplishing our good works. It all depends upon the extent of our readiness to submit to His instructions and accept His assistance. We earn a reward or warrant punishment according to our behavior ó whether we rebel, or whether in reverent compliance try to live according to Godís will, which has been extended to us through His merciful benevolence. For example, this was clearly revealed in the healing of the blind men of Jericho. The fact that our Lord was walking past them was a matter of Divine condescension. But the fact that they cried out: "Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David" (Mat. 21:31), was a matter of faith and hope. The actual healing and return of sight to them was again a matter of Godís mercy. (Blessed John Cassian)

1. God wants the human being that He has created to live forever and never die. If God notices the slightest spark of inclination in our heart toward good, His mercy would never allow it to be extinguished. In wanting everyone to come to the knowledge of the truth and be saved, He would assist in every way so that the spark turns into a flame. The grace of God is close to everyone. It beckons everyone without exception toward understanding the truth, just as Christ said: "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Mat. 11:28). (Blessed John Cassian)

2. Godís grace always directs our will toward good and, consequently, He expects a corresponding effort on our part. So as not to give His gifts to the unconcerned, He seeks an opportunity when He may awaken us from our cold indifference. Christ gives them to us only after we show a willingness to accept them, so that His bountiful gifts do not appear to be without a reason. At the same time His grace is always given freely, because for our insignificant efforts, God rewards us with immeasurable generosity. Thatís why, irrespective of how great the human labors, the significance of the grace as a gift is not lessened by them. Although Apostle Paul states: "I labored more abundantly than they all (Apostles)," he goes on to explain that his efforts do not belong to him but to the grace of God, which was with him (1 Cor. 15:10). Thus he uses the word labored to describe the effort of his will. In words not I, but the grace of God he describes Divine assistance, and in saying that the grace of God was with him he shows that the grace assisted him not when he was idle, but when he labored. (Blessed John Cassian)

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