Last Thursday I had the privilege of facilitating a retreat for members of the Ignatian Volunteer Corps / Baltimore region. IVC volunteers are people age “50 or better” (love it!) who serve 1-2 days a week with a partner agency, using their considerable talents to care for individuals who have slipped through society’s safety net. Their slogan is “Experience Making a Difference,” and I certainly experienced that difference myself in the course of our day together. What a delightful, engaged and engaging group of people, seasoned enough to offer wisdom, yet beautifully open to new questions.
We spent the afternoon working with Part Two of my book Finding God in Ordinary Time. Called Messengers of Grace, Part Two presents surprising encounters with strangers as one of the terrains in which we can spot the presence of God, hidden in plain sight. As you may know, I’ve decided to give faithful blog readers a peek into my book each Sunday in winter Ordinary Time. So with gratitude to the IVC volunteers whom I no longer call strangers, this week I want to share my introduction to Part Two.
Messengers of Grace
People are beautiful, courageous, and inspiring, but we are also messy, complicated, and fallible.
And yet we are dear to God’s heart. In Genesis—the first book of both the Jewish Torah and the Christian Bible—we learn that all humanity is created in the image and likeness of God. The Qur’an teaches us that God (Allah) is “nearer to man than his jugular vein.” In Catholic Social Teaching, the dignity of each person is the first principle. Quakers affirm that there is “that of God in everyone.”
Ever wonder why so many religious traditions feel the need to point this out?
I love how my friend John puts it: every person we meet contains a revelation of God.
In Matthew 25, Jesus says that whatever we do for “the least of these,” we do for him. Who are these “least”? If we look at Jesus’ list (people who are hungry, thirsty, naked, or ill, those who are strangers or imprisoned), we will see that he clearly identified with those who are most vulnerable.
Sometimes vulnerability is attractive, and sometimes it is repellant, but it is always a place where, if we cock our heads at a certain angle, we can catch the message God wants us to hear.
Who has been a messenger of grace for you? Tell us your story in the “Leave a Reply” section below!
May each of your ordinary days be extraordinarily blessed.
Next week: Finding God in a Flowered Housedress