Love and wholeness, isn’t that what most people want? Write a book on those topics and it’s going to sell. As human beings, we are born with a yearning for love and wholeness, we are born, in essence, with a hole in our heart that we then spend our days trying to fill. The bad news is that our old Adam and fallen reason turn to everything but what can actually fill that hole and satisfy the hungry heart and longing soul, whether a bank account, bottle, library, mirror, or one-night stand. In the end, what was never intended to fill that hole can only exacerbate our yearning, increase our frustration, and enlarge that emptiness within. And so, quite understandably, Paul begins by wishing the Galatians grace (God’s underserved love) and peace (wholeness, a right relationship with God). And not only that, but more than simply wishing them such significant things, he continues to tell them how these blessings come to us. Notice, they come to us, and we do not come to them. The answer does come from a bottle, on a plate, in a book, but not in the way fallen men would suppose. The answer comes, not in creations, but with the Creator, who uses creation to bring us these, His greatest gifts, grace and peace, love and wholeness, through the Means of Grace.
Hear again St. Paul’s greeting: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever.” Grace and peace, love and wholeness, come to us from God the Father, the Giver of every good and perfect gift, and through the Son, who gave nothing less than Himself for us, for our sins, to reconcile us to God, a relationship restored, then, not by our actions, but by His, not by our promises, but His, not by our love, but His. Into this world devoid of love and wholeness, which can never deliver what it guarantees and inevitably abuses even its most noble things, Christ Jesus came and conquered, all to deliver us from this present evil age and bring us with Him to His heavenly home and into His Father’s presence, which for us who believe will be a loving, gracious, joyous presence and not the terrors that our sins deserve. This Jesus is the One who fills that hole in our hearts, who fills the emptiness—not a creature or creation, but the One through whom all that is was created. In Him who comes to us with wine and bread, water and the words of a page or preacher, we have what we could never find on our own, all because He found us as the Good Shepherd who will not lose even one committed into His care by His Father. In Him we have love and wholeness, grace and peace, undeserved yet ours nonetheless through faith.