“Being turned inside out by Grace every day.” Wow!!! Pope Francis never ceases to amaze me. A tall order for most of us, to say the least. Despite our sometimes unintentional disconnect with God’s grace, consciously “living the encounter with Jesus...every day” may lead us to a place that has lost its familiarity. What used to be a natural way of life when we were children has, to some extent, been jaded by a world, too often filled with uncertainty and ‘noise’ - the noise of social distractions and pride-filled behaviour. Living our best life, by glorifying God’s grace, may even feel unsettling because in doing so we are being asked to look at the way we live our lives and, purposefully, change our ways in order to allow God’s grace to work through us for the good of others.
Using God’s gifts to attend to the needs of our brothers and sisters is how we, as baptised children of God, are asked to live our lives. During good times, this can easily be realized, but in 2020, with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, this way of life has been undermined. These are challenging times and, whether we realize it or not, we are negotiating our every move. We know that we all have a part to play in this new pandemic-reality, so it is incumbent upon us to pay attention to the script, learn and understand our lines, and go beyond ‘acting’ responsibly to, actually, ‘living’ responsibly. Unfortunately, prior to the pandemic we had become so comfortably numb with the ‘noise’ around us that we failed to recognize the incongruency between our ‘acting’ responsibility and our ‘living ‘responsibility. The question, now, is “How can we change this?” Although the answer can be daunting, by pausing and calling attention to the areas in our lives which we may have been neglecting, we can learn to simultaneously live and act responsibility.
During the past year, how many times have you caught yourself pausing to look at things that you had forgotten how to see, like the smile of a stranger, the fingers on a newborn’s hands, the stillness of the water on a lake, the brilliance of a sunrise or the beauty of a sunset; or, how about hearing the rustling of leaves on a fall day, or the words to that song on the radio, because you had forgotten how to listen; or, the aroma of fresh baked goods in the kitchen or the sweet fragrance of the flowers in the vase sitting on your counter, because you had forgotten how to smell; or, the softness of that old tattered stuffed toy or the silky texture of your favourite scarf, because you had forgotten how to feel; or, the sweetness of wild blueberries and the vine-ripened tomatoes because you had forgotten how to taste? If pausing can help us restore our senses than maybe pausing can help us to recognize God’s grace in us and help to use it to do go for others, by putting away our selfish and sometimes unkind ways. Never in our lifetime has this been more important than now, during the Covid-19 2020 pandemic. We are reminded of this each time we read how St. Paul tells the Ephesians to live a responsible life in Christ, in unity with God and others; “Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgive you.”~ Ephesians 4:31
So, beyond the many challenges we continue to face during this pandemic, I challenge you to ‘live the encounter with Jesus’ by acting and living responsibly, pausing intentionally, and allowing yourself to be turned inside out by Grace every day!
“Lord, give me the grace to improve. Give me the grace to be a good Christian”. ~ September 27, 2020 Pope Francis