The Laces of Grace
Perhaps one of the greatest identifiers of a human being is our free will. We have the ability to choose and it is what sets us apart from other creatures. Lore and some medieval theology even expand on how our free will is what sets us apart from the angels. We have the ability to choose and that is perhaps our defining characteristic – we can choose to love God. Or not.
We often hear about the gift of faith. Grace too is a gift. We are offered so much and the easy temptation to slide into is to take it for granted. To take the lavish gifts and put them on the shelf – in a place of honor most definitely. Grace and faith are not your great-grandmother’s china. These are not gifts to say a polite thank you to God and promptly put them safely away, on a high shelf, separated from our lives by a glass pane. We tell ourselves that we’ll get it down, make use of it later – for that special occasion…later – we have time after all. The Gospel shuts that thinking down. We don’t know how much time there is and what may come. We may be as surprised as the rich man in the Gospel. Faith and grace are gifts of the present moment.
Instead of that hidden china, grace and faith are gifts that need to be received like a pair of snow boots in the Midwestern winter. They are gifts that are intended to be used daily to keep one safe, warm, and protected. They are gifts that are intended to be used daily to propel us out the door when we’d rather not face the elements so that we can go about our work, go about God’s work. Grace is a gift that begs for an immediate decision.
In my years working with those entering the Church as teens and adults, I could see this choice made in so many ways by so many people. It was stunning, humbling, and inspiring. I could see the wrestling with transformation and lifestyle changes. I could see this wrestling with the changing of relationships. I could also the absolute puzzlement of cradle Catholics in the face of these individuals so new to and so inspired by grace and faith.
When the Easter Vigil came and these individuals made their proclamation to the community and to God, I could see what we hear of in today’s second reading. I could also feel in the pews around me how there was a sense of awe but also not quite understanding. For those born to the faith, who have carried on in the faith that they were raised in, a moment of decision and declaration often is not part of the journey.
Today I invite you to consider, have you made that conscious choice to respond to the abundant grace and faith that is offered to you? Have you ever even considered this decision? Our free always leads to a choice. Will you politely put grace away in a cabinet or will you pull it on, tightly lace it about you, and forge out into the world?