Two great rivers merge.
The longest, the White Nile, has its source – still undetermined – somewhere in central Africa.
The Blue Nile, source of most of the water and the fertile soil it carries, begins in a lake in Ethiopia.
They merge, one magnificent river bringing life and abundance where it flows to eleven countries.
What has this to do with the Year of Grace and the Year of Faith?
They merged, like two great rivers. They brought life and abundance. Grace and Faith merge. They will continue to merge. And they always bring life and abundance.
To be honest, I was annoyed when the Pope announced the Year of Faith.
The Australian Bishops had already introduced the Year of Grace in wonderful style and now it seemed they were trumped by a more grandiose idea from Rome.
Our Bishops – so the story goes – faced with mountains of paperwork to arduously work through, decided to relax, push it aside, and concentrate for a while on what God graciously does for us – on God’s Grace in our lives.
Rome’s Year of Faith initially seemed to overwhelm Australia’s effort to concentrate on God’s graciousness.
But no! Two great rivers merged: God’s grace and our faith.
When we look at the Nile, when we look at its greatest flowering of life and plenty on its fertile banks in Egypt, we see the rich fruits of one river.
When we look at our Catholic faith we see one grace, a unity of life and abundance conferred on us by the gift of Faith.
And what we see so clearly in faith by the grace of God is the face of Christ.
The Year of Grace invited us to “start afresh from Christ”. And Christ is God’s greatest grace. The Christ we welcome in faith is God’s greatest gift to us from the abundance of God’s love. Grace. Faith. It’s all about Christ.
My initial annoyance dissipated quickly as I realised the essential unity found in our faith in Jesus through the grace of the Holy Spirit. All is grace.
And only faith can tell us that all is grace.
Throughout the Year of Faith we have prayed at Sunday Mass for hearts ready for all circumstances. We have prayed:
that we would praise God’s goodness
that we would turn to God’s compassion
that we would trust in God’s providence
that we would cling to the Cross
that we would taste God’s mercy
that we would echo God’s generosity by sharing with those in need.
This is the living Faith we have been praying for, knowing that such a living Faith is a superabundant grace that God is dying to give us in response to our heartfelt prayer.
May the Year of Grace and the Year of Faith flow on for us into an ever-expanding lifetime of Grace and Faith.
Reflection by Michael O'Connor.