This past week has given me ample opportunity to meditate upon the wonder of snow, and through this time I've gained a renewed appreciation for two portions of Holy Scripture in particular.
The first is Isaiah's prophecy, when he declares: "Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow" (Isa. 1:18). There is something so pristine, pure, and clean about a blanket of newly fallen snow. It doesn't matter what stains or tarnishes lay upon the ground, when the snow falls it covers it completely with pure white. It isn't until we start manipulating that blanket of pureness, shoveling it here, plowing it there, that it becomes dirty and brown. This is a good image for us of God's grace in our lives. His grace covers all of the tarnishes and divots with a blanket of purest white. It's only when we start trying to manipulate that grace that we tarnish that image of internal purity. God's grace is what covers the tarnishes; any attempt we make to help that grace out of our own effort and ingenuity will, quite simply, mess up the pure white blanket that has descended upon us.
The other passage I gained increased appreciation for is from Matthew's Gospel, when Jesus declares, "You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:43-45). The rain, just like the snow, does not play favorites. It does not fall on one person but avoid the next; to this end, this past week, all in East Aurora were impacted by the feet of snow that fell, whether they asked for the snow or not, whether they wanted it or not. The point that Jesus is making is that God's grace is enough to cover all, not just those who have chosen to follow Him or align themselves with Him. Because of this, we are to love our enemies because God has chosen to bestow the same grace this is available to us upon all people. This universal love of God for humanity is further reinforced by St. John, when he states that Christ is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2) as well as by Christ's own words from the cross when He says, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they've done" (Luke 23:34).
This is the mystery of God's grace. There is nothing we can do to earn it and there is nothing we can do to manipulate it. He provides it freely and provides it freely to all. So as you look out upon the snow, be reminded of God's grace, but not only the grace He gives you but also the grace He offers the one sitting next to you, your neighbor, your co-workers, or any others you encounter in life. We are not asked by God to manipulate His grace or to judge who gets it and who doesn't, we are instead to rejoice on the reality that God's grace covers the blemishes or our lives and that this grace is given not for us only, but also for the whole world.
(as published in St. Luke’s weekly email newsletter, 2/1/19)