God describes the sheep as "blessed by God." Even if we did all the 'works' described in that parable, our motives would still be impure and thus our 'righteousness' would be as filthy (literally menstrual) rags.
if everyone voted for candidates who had always a voting record of voting against all the principles of the 10 commandments and the Gospel, everything would turn out the same even if everyone always voted for candidates who had always a voting record of voting in favor of all the principles of the 10 commandments and the Gospel!?!
Probably not, but like Jesus told Pilate, all authority comes from God. Now, if the original is talking strictly about temporal power, or, more accurately, influence, then it's accurate. Anything past that, though, sounds like God somehow loses power (the ability to do stuff) if the unrighteous are in authority.
Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life.
This is the part where we disagree. No one merits grace. God is outside of time, so before time, now, and in the future, God has saved us, is saving us, and will save us.
Have a nice evening. Talk to you later.
I really think we are in agreement fundamentally. We both agree God is God, infinite, almighty, omnipotent, eternal ... And we are formed of dust from the ground (Gen 2:7).
In the paragraph that you said we disagree, does not the phrase I wrote Moved by the Holy Spirit indicate what you are saying in that man cannot even have a good thought without Gods help, without His grace? The paragraphs preceding this paragraph that you disagreed with put it in proper prospective. The merit of man before God in the Christian life arises from the fact that God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of his grace (emphasis added!). etc...
Let me say these things in another way. We agree that God is all! But God can choose to bring about His plan of salvation anyway He decides! Thus God can freely choose to use human instruments, IF HE WANTS, in His designs. This strategy is rather clear throughout the Old and New Testaments. The human instruments are only instruments, like Mary, like John the Baptist, like Moses, like all the prophets, etc. Just as God could prepare the land for harvest by a miracle, He could also give to man, His instrument, the intelligence to use a plough, etc. The instrument can be made of dust, as we are! So God is still God, and we are still creatures made in the image of God (Gen 1:27) and thus with a free will, reasoning capacity and an immortal soul. To these instruments God can give different amounts of truth and grace, as God freely chooses! The more we receive from God (talents - Mt 25:14-30), the more responsibility we will have before God and man. But he who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, shall receive a light beating. Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more (Lk 12:48).
If a buck Private in a war does not live up to his responsibilities, there will not be too much damage. But if a General does not live up to his responsibilities it will cause considerable damage. So too those who have received more in this spiritual battle (as instruments of God) in this cosmic struggle as Pope John Paul II puts it, will cause considerable damage if they do not live up to and fulfil their God given responsibility.
Pope John Paul II wrote: “It is suffering, more than anything else, which clears the way for the grace which transforms human souls. Suffering, more than anything else, makes present in the history of humanity the powers of the Redemption. In that ‘cosmic’ struggle between the spiritual powers of good and evil, spoken of in the Letter to the Ephesians (Eph 6:12), human suffering, united to the suffering of Christ, “constitutes a special support for the powers of good, and opens the way to the victory of these salvific powers” (On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering, n.27; Feb. 11, 1984)
If we, as worthless instruments, freely choose to do Gods will, God will do great things in each of us. I as an instrument, as dust, cannot bear any fruit unless I abide in the vine, Who is Jesus (Jn 15:1-11). Unless I die each day, in carrying my cross, as a grain of wheat (like Jesus on the cross), I will bear no fruit (Jn12:24).
The term "merit," in Catholic theology, means "to have a claim on a reward," not necessarily "to deserve a reward in strict justice".
So, yes, in some contexts we do "merit grace," even if all we do to merit grace is ask for it.