Grace – Not A "Begrudged Mop Up Exercise"

January 2010 will go down as a time in my life when writing did not come easily to me. Part of it is time – or a lack of it. Part of it is… I don’t know. I wish I could explain it; I wish I could lean into it and keep writing. Not much comes.

Today however, I read this link from the Center for Action and Contemplation, home of my favorite Franciscan, Richard Rohr, OFM. It got me thinking about a lot of things and I will make some attempt to write about them here.

Rohr starts out with this (emphasis mine):

God fills in the gaps of human deficiency by a great act of mercy and compassion, and the word for that great act for St. Paul is “Christ.”  For him Christ is the name for God’s great compassion, God’s great plan, God’s readiness to fill in the gaps of human sin, brokenness, poverty, and failure.  It is not a begrudged mop-up exercise after the fact, but as John Duns Scotus taught us Franciscans, “Christ was the very first idea in the mind of God.”  “All was created through him and for him …and he holds all things in unity and reconciles all within himself” (Colossians 1:16-17, 20).  Christ is God’s master plan and blueprint for history!  Salvation was the plan from the beginning, and not a mere response to our mistakes.

God fills in… I love this beginning because it points to a God that loves us and so generously cares for us. This is the opposite of a meaner view of God, put forth by so many and accepted by so many. In fact, accepted by people who are not even sure that God exists!

I think this also addresses a school of religious thought that puts the focus on us as humans. If we do all this heavy lifting, from prayer to whatever actions and devotions, it is as if we were cleaning up with the Cosmic Swiffer.

Make no mistake, I think that our actions matter – but not because we are changing God! No God is always changing us, when we allow such change.

Rohr continues:

So why do we make the Gospel into a cheap worthiness contest? After all, we have all fallen short of the glory (Romans 3:23, 5:12) and all are saved by mercy (Romans 11:32-36). Even Mary proclaims it of herself (four times!) in her “Magnificat” (Luke 1:47-55). Popes and priests, presidents and politicians are all saved “en Cristo” and by mercy and in our undeserved state. No exceptions.

God does not love us if we change. God loves us so that we can change. These are two very different scenarios, but most of Christian history has sadly chosen the first.

Not if we can change, but rather so we can change. This isn’t a cleanup operation, it is an invitation to become the very people that God has loved into being. This is an invitation to respond to the grace that is all around us.

How this propels me on a January morning and makes the embers of my writing fire begin to glow again.


7 thoughts on “Grace – Not A "Begrudged Mop Up Exercise"

  1. I feel you. I was just sitting here thinking, 'two blogs, and nothing at all feels ready to come out.'Your post reminds me greatly of a book that I've been obsessing over lately: Fr. James Martin's Becoming Who You Are. "This isn't a cleanup operation, it is an invitation to become the very people that God has loved into being. This is an invitation to respond to the grace that is all around us." Those two sentences could make of part of the synopsis. I'm glad you felt the inspiration this morning…


  2. She's ba-a-ack! Cosmic Swiffer…. I thank God, daily, that he is not holding a worthiness contest. Thanks, for the inspiration!


  3. After a day-long retreat that stressed this very idea, it was nice this morning to read what amounts to a perfect description of the day…God blesses us so that we can become who we are. I'm walking around with this thought today.


  4. May your embers glow brightly throughout 2010, Fran.You are, to borrow from Cardinal Newman, "a bond of connection between persons."


  5. Cosmic Swiffer! What a fantastic image! That phrase knit the whole thing together for me. Great job on this post, Fran. Keep up the good work.


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