Today’s Gospel reading is from the book of Matthew, chapter 13, verses 44-46. I just read a great reflection on that Scripture from Bishop Robert Barron’s daily meditations. I get one in my inbox every morning. I always find comforting and/or illuminating thoughts when I read them, but today’s especially resonated with me.
Bishop Barron noted that “Sometimes in the course of our everyday lives, something happens that vividly and surprisingly summons us to union with God. We realize, in a flash, what it’s all about. We weren’t particularly looking for it, but it found us.”
That, the good Bishop declares in the next paragraph, is grace. He urges us to be open to the “inrushing of grace” that can occur without our preparing for it or expectation of it. In fact, it often happens that way. That’s been my experience anyway.
On Sunday my husband, Sean, and I attended church with our daughter and her husband and 3 children, as we do most Sundays since we’ve moved to live near them for a while. But this Sunday there was an “inrushing of grace” that was unexpected, but most welcome, as it always is.
After returning from receiving the Eucharist I picked up our 3 year old granddaughter, Molly, along with her “soft blanky,” as she refers to her near constant companion. She was sleepy, or maybe just feeling like she wanted to snuggle, but she held on to me, head on my shoulder, arms around my neck, with a vice-like grip. And she didn’t let go. She just stayed there, content and peaceful. Even on my knees, it was so easy to hold her because she is tiny, but she was so still and so tightly holding on. As a grandmother, I was beyond delighted and more than happy.
I began to pray in thanksgiving, which is my norm after receiving the Eucharist at Mass, but the very real and tangible presence of God was literally embodied in that few cherished minutes of holding Molly up on my shoulder that morning. It was God’s grace, most assuredly. And in my love for that little girl I also experienced all the love I have for her siblings, an older sister and younger brother, her parents, my husband, my son and his wife, far away in Kansas, my extended family and dear friends. In that moment I was indescribably aware and in awe of my love for God and all His creation. And of His love for me.
And the thanksgiving in that brief period of time was immense and intense. How fitting it should have been at that moment of the Eucharistic feast. Eucharisteo is the Greek word for giving thanks, for feeling thankful, for being grateful. And so heaped upon my gratitude for receiving our Lord, God saw fit in that particular instance to increase my awareness of ALL I had to be grateful for at the same time. It doesn’t happen every Sunday, but the saying by one of my favorite authors, Ann Voskamp, is “eucharisteo always precedes the miracle.”
I had actually been praying for the past day or so in thanksgiving for the many wonderful gifts and blessings and talents God has bestowed upon me and mine. I was again made aware and was not taking these beautiful things for granted, as I am ashamed to say I too often do. I was grateful and thanking God for them, for my knowledge of Him, for my love of it all. And so, on that beautiful, fairly mundane, definitely ordinary Sunday morning, doing what I’ve done thousands of times before, I was given the extraordinary gift – the inrushing of God’s grace.
Dare to be thoughtfully, completely aware of the gifts you’ve been given. The greatest is just being here at all! You are always thought of by God. He is completely aware of your existence and of your needs and desires. He brought you here. And you are His delight. He loves you no matter what and through all eternity. Start there. And the gratitude for His grace will increase and so will the awareness of the grace He has to give. It is an endless supply, just like His love. Just like His mercy. He’s just waiting for you, for me, to receive it.