Wednesday, December 14, 2005

"The possiblity of grace"

Jim Street looks at how God worked in the lives of Zechariah, Joseph, and Mary, and reflects on "the possibility of grace":
I cannot help but wonder about the relationship of grace to the resolution of our own dilemmas. In other words, how do we open ourselves up to the possibility of grace when we are torn between options or confused by events that occur in our lives?

I write "the possibility of grace" because I see that grace cannot be ordered up like eggs and bacon. One can no more command grace than one can command a river to run uphill. (I have often thought that addictive or compulsive actions may be vain attempts at "grace on demand.") Grace is a gift and gifts, by definition, are given out of the giver's freedom to give or not give.

To demand a gift is to paralyze the giver. . . .

Sometimes we wonder whether God is waiting for us to act! We mutter to ourselves, "Well, God, gave me a good brain. God gave me choice. God expects me to do the best I can with what I have and what I know. God expects me to assume responsibility for my actions." And while I understand that (and have acted on that basis more often than not), it leaves me wondering whether acting on the basis of my "best lights" short circuits the possibility of grace. (And I wonder how many of those who regularly proclaim that philosophy are people of prayer and hope.)
I wonder, too. And I also wonder if I'm one of the people Jim writes about.


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