Discerning Grace in Human Experiences (1)


Theological discourse concerning grace in Christian tradition has been around for centuries. In modern age with its secular societies, is grace still relevant to modern human experiences? Many contemporary theologians would argue that in this modem world it is precisely even more relevant. This essay will present a reflection on grace made by one of those modern theologians, namely Leonardo Boff.1

There are some expressions used by Leonardo Boff to describe grace. Boff describes grace as an encounter between two realms. It refers to the most basic Christian experience of God who so loves us that He has given Himself It is also an experience of human beings who open themselves to be loved by God and to have personal relationships and dialogue with God. This encounter result in whatever good, beautiful and graceful found in creation and in human history. Because it is an encounter, grace is the breaking down of realms that are closed upon each other. It is a meeting between two freedoms and two loves. It follows then that lack of encounter, refusal to dialogue, and closing in upon oneself can be called dis-grace.

Thus, according to Boff, grace is the name for God Himself. God is grace. He is always communion, open and going out to others, and love for others. Grace is indeed the essence (divinitas) of God. This God is God who has incarnated into human history and continuously presents in it. God is always experienced by human beings as something that escapes, open ended, further on, and open out to the future. Gratuitousness, beauty, goodness, favor, benevolence, gift giving that human beings experience in their life are viewed as the presence and activity of God in the world. …..to be continued

End Notes:
1 The presentation of Boff’s reflection on grace in this essay will follow much closely his book: Leonardo Boff, Liberating Grace (New York: Orbis, 1979).
2 Leonardo Boff, Liberating Grace (New York: Orbis, 1979), pp.84-85.
3 Ibid., p.86
4 Ibid., p. 86
5 Ibid., pp. 88..105.
6 Cf. Donald E. Waltermire, The Liberation Christologies ofLeonardo Boffand John Sobrino (Boston: University Press of America, 1994), p. 51 n. 177
7 See Leonardo Boff, Liberating Grace, p. 87.


Boff: Leonardo. Liberating Grace. New York: Orbis, 1979.
Waltermire, Donald E. The Liberation Christologies of Leonardo Boff and John Sabrino. Boston: University Press of America, 1994.

by A. Puspo Kuntjoro


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