Fr. John's Letter Archives

Enjoy re-reading Fr. John's weekly bulletin letters for the past year.

But for the Grace of God

04-20-2014Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

One of the songs we have been singing during Lent titled: There By The Grace of God Go I, a new composition written by Chris Muglia. Chris said the inspiration for the song was Pope Francis' statement "who am I to judge". That statement is a strong reminder that those of us who are living a life of grace have been saved from so many of the hurtful behaviors we watch others engage in. And it is mostly an affirmation of the fact that it is only by the grace of God that we are not doing the things we rightly judge to be sinful. That makes us righteous not self-righteous. It is important to remember that loving someone does not mean accepting wrong behavior or not judging behavior that is hurtful but rather recognizing that that person could be me if it were not for the abundant grace of God. That gives things a different perspective.

This is what makes our Eucharistic Assembly so diverse and beautiful, so rich: from top to bottom, from rich to poor, from sinner to saint we are all present together only by the grace of God. What or who would we be without that grace? Maybe we would be the liar or cheat, or the addict or the unfaithful one. No matter how much we've cleaned up we know where we came from and what keeps us from going back: the grace of God.

For Christians who celebrate the Redemption of Christ this is always the central fact. We are saved not on our own merits or doings but by the love of Christ who paid our debt when we could not. One of the customs that the ancient Romans had when preparing to release prisoners who had fulfilled their sentence was to post a sign on their cells saying: "it is fulfilled" that is sentence completed, debt paid (tetalestai in Greek in the perfect tense which indicates an action that has been completed and the result of that action is on-going). They are the words that Jesus last cries from the cross, "it is finished" in other words the debt, our debt has been paid in full. Again not by us but by Christ.

Now the only way that makes sense is if you are humble enough to know that you owe something, something that you cannot fulfill. The arrogant as were so many people in the Gospels stories didn't see it that way, as so many people do today, "what me owe God"? Never! That's because they look with their eyes and not their hearts. Jesus power is not carnal it is spiritual. That's why when we pause and recall all that we have been given, forgiven and re-given we know better. Yes only by the grace of God, there go I.

So today, on this Easter Day simply be grateful that Christ died for us, in our place. Be grateful for all the things you once were and are now not and all that you by the grace of God have become. I think especially of the newly baptized and confirmed among us. Their journey brings into focus just how real this gift of salvation is and how the road to Christ often filled with dead ends and wrong turns can lead to living a life that demonstrates that we were lost but now are found. By the grace of God….

To the sinner and ashamed
To the addict and afraid
To The outcast
To the broken, the lost and confused

Maybe you're in the gutter
Maybe you're in the pew
Maybe you're locked up
Maybe you wear a suit
Who am I to judge the things you do?
I am no better than you.

There by the grace of God go I.
There by the grace of God go I.
I don't know how I don't know why,
There by the grace of God go I.

To the anxious and abused
To the lonely and the used
To the restless hearts who cannot find their peace.
I might not know you
Or maybe I do
Well I am no better than you

Love, Fr. John B.