Birds flying from trees
Franciscan Spirit Blog

Open Yourself to Grace

May 5, 2022
A child holds a beautiful flower
Grace cannot be confined or contained or constrained. We don’t dole it out to the deserving. We spill it…to anyone and everyone.

In the church of my youth, I was weaned with an aptitude for intolerance. We knew exactly whom God didn’t care for. Who was on the outside looking in. And we made no bones about naming names. We shunned people. We damned them to hell. When I grew up, I knew in my heart it wasn’t right, but I confess that under the guise of walking the fine line, I stayed silent too long. I cannot do that anymore. I know what fear can do. And I don’t want to live that way. I don’t regret any choices I have made, but I do regret the things I didn’t do. When I chose not to speak out, I was wrong, because I read the faces of the crowd to see what placates.

St. Francis is helpful here. Simply, Francis was a heartfelt ally to everything and everyone around him. He began with this assumption, from man to beast, from the trees to the stones, from the sun to the moon to the changing seasons; each is kindred spirit. As kindred spirits, he believed that mankind would naturally be drawn to honor acts out of love and respect, rather than anger, exclusion and supremacy.

What I am learning is this: Perhaps the very people I exclude, the ones who carry the light—who carry the candle—are the ones that invite me to savor the moment and live in the present. They will allow me to see the Grace of God. And the expansive reach of God’s acceptance.

To every single one of us. Whether I like it or not, it seems that the kingdom of God will be radically and scandalously inclusive.



Think of that. God loves broken people and people who have been marginalized and downtrodden and who don’t fit into boxes. God loves infidels, idiots, the shunned and the heathen. Now that is one radical hospitality. That is truly a Church of the Exceptional.

This is good news: Grace cannot be confined or contained or constrained. We don’t dole it out to the deserving. We spill it…to anyone and everyone. And one lit candle makes a difference. I will choose to live wholeheartedly from the Gospel of Grace for all, which may mean leaning into untidiness and discomfort, and a willingness to be honest about what makes it uncomfortable for me.

So how then shall we live? This is important. Not, how then shall we react? That’s different altogether. Sputtering and muttering and harrumphing never wears well.

Back to the Church of the Exceptional: the woman is my teacher. In persistence we choose steady, daily acts of gentleness and kindness and inclusion and healing. One foot in front of another. It’s not just about belief. Heroes live the sacrament of the present. Heroes are ordinary souls who carry the weight of ordinary life. And heroism is born in every act of kindness and compassion and inclusion, no matter how small.

Because in a world cynical and afraid, it takes courage to be kind and generous of spirit, and to fight for mercy and justice. Today, time in the garden. The garden detoxifies me. We are still not free from a possible winter freeze, but the signs of new life everywhere make me grin and giggle. And Lord, that does my heart good.

So, in the meantime, look around your house, your yard, your office. What are the messages our culture gives us about the necessity of a tidy life? What are we told about untidiness? Or disarray? And why do we seem to put a moral price tag on it? As in…once you tidy up or straighten out or get mended, you can start living your life.


Stand Still by Terry Hershey

Comments

Judy Collins
Thu, 05/05/2022 - 09:19 AM
Judy Collins
Think we all need a porch swing!!!
Pedie Karn
Thu, 05/05/2022 - 09:21 AM
Pedie Karn
I was inspired by the statement; the Kingdom of God will be radically and scandalously inclusive. What a lesson learned.
C Mattingly
Thu, 05/05/2022 - 09:33 AM
C Mattingly
This is absolutely beautiful!!! Some of the most though provoking sentences I’ve ever read! I have no idea who you are, Terry, but I hope you continue to write. The Body of Christ NEEDS to hear this. ❤️
Julie
Thu, 05/05/2022 - 09:46 AM
Julie
What a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing your story. I need to go sit on my patio furniture and forget about cleaning today.
Maggie Keenan
Thu, 05/05/2022 - 09:48 AM
Maggie Keenan
I think we need to be careful, especially when we consider gender ideologies and pro choice arguments that are misleading a lot of the faithful. God is love, Jesus asked us to love one another unconditionally. But God wants to avoid and hate sin , which is often our behaviour which do not follow God's commandments and Our Lord Jesus Christ's teachings. In Romans 7:22-24 St Paul highlighted our struggles with sin, when he wrote: " I love God's law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. ----" So , it is safe for me to conclude that all Christians struggle with sin throughout their lifetime. Yet, the new life we live in the grace of God is shown by the fruits of righteous works. God's grace help us to change, to live inseparable from His law, as both work towards righteousness in a child of God, free from sin and death. We should there never accept or just sin to please the political and general populace. I would say Habakkuk sums up nicely about persuasive arguments that are misleading many, this generation. Habakkuk has a warning to those who promote such notions as gender ideologies: " AND so the law loses its grip and justice never emerges, since the wicked outwits the upright and so justice comes out perverted. " Habakkuk 1:13 Academic arguments and God never, ever match, and many, especially academics try to reason and end up lost. Our God is the ocean of mercy, and all sinners are welcome. We therefore, should not hate people but hate sin, as Habakkuk says of God, "Your eyes are too pure to rest on evil. " Habakkuk 1: 13
Leon Budziszewski
Thu, 05/05/2022 - 09:11 PM
Leon Budziszewski
Hi Maggie! I like how you started your comment: "I think we all need to be careful". By that quote, what I mean is that we all need to be careful to not judge others, regardless. Jesus never condemned anyone for their sins or their beliefs. What he did condemn, is being judgmental and hypocritical of others. So yes, we all need to be careful! Others' sins are their business. Don't we have more than enough to take care of, just dealing with our own sins?
Maggie Keenan
Fri, 05/06/2022 - 12:45 AM
Maggie Keenan
I take your comments. However I do believe that there is a difference between being judgemental and telling the truth. To use an example, if you see me breaking into a shop and walking away with goods without paying , would you just be content that I might end up in jail? Surely, as a Christian you have a duty to pray for my conversion, to save my soul. Jesus did not condemn Mary Magdalene, but He was very clear when He asked her not to sin anymore. It is "sin " that should be condemned not the person. It is the soul that matters, Jesus's last words,(Luke 23:46 Father, into Your hands I commit my soul).He was returning His soul to God. Galatians 3:3 " Are you so foolish? Having started with the soul and now ending with flesh." We must prepare to stand before God alone, and testify what we have done according to prompts of the Holy Spirit. Remember God's plan for salvation of humanity (Isaiah 40:7),we have an invitation to allow ourselves to be led by the Holy Spirit. I strongly agree that we therefore have a duty to listen compassionately to our brothers and sisters who are struggling, wounded etc to be merciful and pray with them to change their mind and heart to reflect the truth which is Jesus. James 5:16 calls us to confess our faults and to pray for one another. That is not judging others, it is about saying the truth in the hope that we should all be saved.
Carol Stephens
Thu, 05/05/2022 - 01:18 PM
Carol Stephens
Did Terry Hershey convert? If so, that's great. If not, why aren't we hearing from Catholic writers?
Linda
Thu, 05/05/2022 - 06:42 PM
Linda
Terry’s writing is great. He’s a treasure. Carol, go elsewhere if you want only Catholic writers. This is why people think Catholics are so unwelcoming.
Patrick
Thu, 05/05/2022 - 07:19 PM
Patrick
Agreed. God bless Terry for his writing. Our souls do not belong to a denomination.
Leon Budziszewski
Thu, 05/05/2022 - 09:05 PM
Leon Budziszewski
Hi Carol! This is also a Franciscan site. St. Francis of Assisi was inclusive, not only of all people, but of all creation! How can we exclude non-Catholic writers, especially when they have so much to teach us? Would St. Francis exclude Terry? Another insight: It's that Catholics believe in God, not that God believes in Catholics!

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