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Monday, December 22, 2014

Taking Grace for Granted

"What, then, will this child be?" Lk 1:66

Sometimes, especially when we are busy, we take God, family, friends and faith for granted. We rush about internally and externally trying to get everything done, often enough out of pride. We want everything just right and will be disappointed in ourselves if it isn't. Perhaps that is why today's gospel is about John the Baptist's birth. John is the one who will "prepare the way of the Lord," in clear and unambiguous ways. Reform your lives, he will shout. Stop living as if nothing matters but your own safety and pleasure. Our task, John insists, is to sweep the roads, filling in potholes and smoothing out rough spots so the Lord can enter human history.

A few days ago, while working on a homily for Christmas, my computer beeped, alerting me that another email had arrived. Glancing down I noticed it was from an old friend so I opened it immediately only to learn that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Shocked and alarmed, I put aside my homily writing and prayed for a few moments. The clutter of trying to write the perfect homily vanished quickly as I sat in solidarity with my friend.

John the Baptist was right. I was living in a bubble as I prepared for Christmas and someone had to yell at me to stop. Only when we respond to grace and push aside the frantic grasping after all manner of "stuff" do we realize that God is always with us, and it is only our willingness to pause in the middle of the mess that alerts us to the presence of light.

Today, take some extra time to say thank you to God for all the grace in your life.

What practices help you not to take yourself too seriously?

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