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Daily Devotional • January 11

By Elizabeth Baumann
Everything Is a Gift
A Reading from Ephesians 2:1-10

1 You were dead through the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. 3 All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, doing the will of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else, 4 but God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved — 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God — 9 not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we may walk in them.

There have been seasons of my life when I’ve relied on Pinterest as a devotional — a helpful tool for the busy, distracted, and phone-attached. Thus I’ve collected quite a number of quotes from the saints. I love the saints! As I scroll through them from time to time it strikes me that in their varied ways they say the same thing. From St. Alphonsus Liguori: “If you embrace all things in this life as coming from the hands of God ... assuredly you will die a saint.” From St. Thérèse of Lisieux: “Trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be,” and “All is grace.”
It is what St. Paul also says at the end of this lesson we have today. All of salvation is a gift of God — grace through faith, but even faith is a gift. “We are what he has made us,” Paul writes, even our “good works” are prepared by God “beforehand to be our way of life.” Don’t we leave each Mass having prayed, “Send us out to do the work you have given us to do”? The heart of following God is having the courage to believe in his providence: that all the circumstances, all the temperaments and personalities, all the sufferings especially, are a path he has a prepared for us to make us holy and thus to bring us to himself. The hardest thing is not navigating the obstacles in the path, it’s wanting to come to him enough that we are willing to give up finding our own way.

Elizabeth Baumann is a seminary graduate, a priest’s wife, and the mother of two small daughters. A transplant from the West Coast, she now lives in “the middle of nowhere” in the Midwest with too many cats.

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