In my first post I talked about how you say “thanksgiving” in Spanish – el dia de accion de gracias, that is “the day of action of thanks.” Most of us know that “gracias” is Spanish for “thanks.’ But gracias is the plural of gracia, which is “grace.” And grace comes from the Latin gratia, meaning – pleasing quality, good will, gratitude.
In Spain, I found that there were two uses for the word grace that were unusual. In Andalucia, Southern Spain, when a person has a joy for life, a good sense of humor, a certain spark, is attractive, and others want to be with them, they say the person “has grace.” When a person says this in Andalucia, they don’t think of the word as it is literally translated to English – grace. No, they think of those qualities I described. This attractiveness or charm the person has would perhaps lead the other person to be disposed to share Good Love with them, to want to be closer, to want to spend time with them, to know them.
The second use for grace I find interesting is in the form of a piropo. A piropo is a flirtatious or amorous compliment, but not vulgar. Sometimes when a woman in Spain says “thanks” (gracias), the man will respond “those you have” (las (gracias) que tienes). But in Spanish it is a play on words. The thanks (gracias) that she has, are really the graces (gracias) she has, or elegance and attractiveness. While a piropo is usually shared in passing with no real intimacy, I would say it is another example of sharing Good Love. Although it does not rise to the Better Love I described last week with encouragement, it does have the potential to fill someone’s sails with a little encouragement.
But in English, the first use of the word grace comes from the 12th century, and it meant “God’s favor or help.” It also meant to grant a favor, pardon, mercy, unmerited favor. And I would have to say that the best example of mercy and unmerited favor is the Best Love that God has offered to all of us, whether or not we accept it. Again, from I John 3:16, this is how we know what (Best) Love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And from Ephesians 2:8,9, For by grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast.
This brings to mind another Spanish phrase. It is common for a friend to invite another friend to a meal, by saying “I invite you” (te invito). But there is something very distinct about this statement in Spanish. That is, they are not only inviting you to go with them to the meal, but they are offering to pay for the meal for you. This is surely an example of Good Love, that someone not only wants to share a meal with you, spend time, share thoughts and feelings, but they are willing to pay for you as well.
This is similar to what I think of when I think of Grace. Jesus conquered death, and he offers us the remedy to death as well. He invites us to follow him, to accept the unmerited favor he offers, with only our faith required. Nothing we can do can make us worthy of his Grace, but more importantly he invites us (nos invita) – he pays the price in full. There is no better invitation than the one from Best Love.