Lay Holiness: The Role of Grace – Part III
It is a grace of the Spirit to recognize the grace of the Spirit
I would say the grace to cry out “Abba” to the Father, and the grace to recognize Jesus as Lord, is the same type of grace that fills bishops when they recognize that the men they will ordain are sufficiently holy and will grow in holiness, and the same type of grace that fills religious superiors when they recognize that the men and women they will admit to their Orders are sufficiently holy and will grow in holiness. Also, it is the same type of grace given by the Spirit to men and women who recognize the other as sufficiently holy and open to growth in holiness when they administer the Sacrament of Matrimony to each other.
Let me express this in the following way: It is a grace of the Spirit to recognize the grace of the Spirit. Consider the grace given to the Archangel Gabriel when he saluted the young Mary: “Hail, full of grace” (Luke 1:28).
Two more examples of this follow. The first is from the Acts of the Apostles (10:44-46):
While Peter was still speaking these things,
the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the word.
The circumcised believers who had accompanied Peter
were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit
should have been poured out on the Gentiles also,
for they could hear them speaking in tongues and glorifying God.
The circumcised believers were granted the grace to recognize that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles.
The second example is a statement Pope St. John Paul II made of his pre-seminary spiritual mentor, Jan Tyranowski: “I saw the beauty of a soul opened up by grace.” The young Karol Wojtyla had been granted the grace to recognize the beauty of a soul opened up by grace.
We should pray for both kinds of grace: the grace to become holy and the grace to recognize holiness. It becomes a cycle of virtue.
There are of course many people who did not recognize Jesus, and so He was put to death. St. Paul said this in the synagogue in Antioch of Pisidia: “The inhabitants of Jerusalem and their leaders failed to recognize Him…” (Acts 13:27). It seems to me that the people of hometown Nazareth who refused to recognize Him despite His “mighty deeds” actually help us assert the truth of the Faith that Jesus was “truly man.” Here is the Gospel report on this incident: “Jesus came to His native place and taught the people in their synagogue. They were astonished and said, ‘Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds? Is he not the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother named Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? Are not his sisters all with us? Where did this man get all this?’” (Matt. 13-54-56)
***Editor’s Note: For Part II in this series, click here
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