Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Grace - Finding God in All Things

We talk a lot in Christian circles about God's grace - what we have been "saved" from, what we have a specific charism (or grace) to do, how amazing it is.  We talk in Catholic circles about the special graces given to Mary to be Jesus' mother, the grace of God guaranteed to us in the sacraments.  To quote an old hymn, we believe in "the grace that is greater than all of our sins."  We know that God is rational, loving, and personal - that he loves us in a way that is specific to us - ordinary, if you will - but also very real, and sometimes extraordinary.

What often happens is that we see someone else in a situation different from ours, and we think, "I don't know how she does it.  I could never do that."  The young widow, the cancer patient, the mom with 10 kids, the couple struggling with infertility, the single mom, the recovering addict.  You know what?  It's okay.  God gives them grace for that situation.  You don't have the grace for that situation because you're not in it.  God's busy giving you grace for the situations you are in.  Situations that are familiar to you, hardships and crosses that fit snugly, even though they may be heavy, your day-to-day life that is filled with joys and struggles.  God's grace is for you in those situations, not the theoretical, hypothetical situations of the future, not in the hardships of others. 

Right here.  Right now.  Your life.

We do not understand God's grace for others outside of ourselves, but we should be busy finding and receiving God's grace for us, right within our grasp.  As St. Ignatius reminds us, you can "find God in all things."  Another quote I love, from Paula D'Arcy, "God comes to you disguised as your life."

On the flip side of that same token, God's grace is extended to us in the form of forgiveness, too.  He cleanses us from original sin at baptism, and actual sin from that point forward.  Why is it so hard for us to believe that God forgives others of their sins?  Sins with which we do not struggle, perhaps. Sins we may not even be tempted by.  Sins that, "I could never...." or sins that, "I don't know how they can do that..."

Ugly, isn't it?  Sin's ugly.  And the sin of looking down from our high horse at another person struggling differently, only to say, "I could never commit..." is pretty ugly, too.

We are all tempted.  We are all deceived.  We all have weaknesses.  Mine may be different from yours.  

I can be grateful in saying that I was never tempted to drug addiction, that was a grace.  But, I did have to overcome sexual sins, and that was a grace.  We may watch a Planned Parenthood director explaining the harvesting of fetus' body parts and think that she's a monster or a criminal, but we don't recognize that - that sin, that mistake?  It wasn't ours.    

God's grace is there for everyone.  We are so bad at showing that grace to one another.  It's almost as if we are proud of our graces, of the gift we have received because our gift of grace is different from your gift of grace.  God is waiting in the moments of our lives - in our sins, our failures, our joys, our mountaintops, our struggles.  He's there in ALL of it.  And there is grace for everyone, every moment.  God's grace for me is different from God's grace for you, both in how I sin and in how I overcome my difficulties, both in my gifts and in my weaknesses.  May we learn to encourage others, and not to judge them.  May we stop comparing ourselves with one another.    

"Forgive them, Father, they know not what they do." - Luke 23:34

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