“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind, but now I see.”
President Obama made the following statement in his eulogy for Pastor Clementa Pinckney in Charleston: “According to Christian tradition, grace is not earned. Grace is not inherited. Grace is not merited. It’s not something we deserve. Rather, grace is the free and benevolent favor of God. As a nation, out of this terrible tragedy, God visited grace upon us for He allowed us to see where we’ve been blind.” Click here for the video.
These words linger in my mind as I take time this July 4 weekend to contemplate the events of the world and to ponder my responsibility as an individual American, Christian, and Dominican Associate of Peace. What grace has God visited upon me to see better as I observe the horrific acts of racism and gun violence, the abuse of human dignity in trafficking and immigration policies, and the destruction of the earth through careless inattention. Other issues exist which require careful dialogue including world economic disparity and the need to engage in deeper reflection and discussions on the meaning of marriage, both civil and sacramental. The President said “What grace freely gives me is to have an open heart so not to slip back into a comfortable silence again. If we can find that grace, anything is possible. If we can tap that grace, everything can change.”
Mary Catherine Hilkert, OP, stated in her book Naming Grace that “Naming the grace that is to be found in the faith experience of the community involves listening to and learning from members of the community. Preaching is the retelling of the story of Jesus in word and deed. In the African American community, no one asks whether the Pastor’s story is the story of Jesus or the people’s story; the community knows that in the end it is the same story.”
I believe that living as a Dominican of Peace Associate is the opportunity to name the grace that I see around me. Hilkert expresses it this way, “If the story of Jesus is a living tradition, it has to be retold anew in every period of history. Never before has the gospel been proclaimed or heard in the way we will announce it from our own unique moment in history.” Since this is my moment in history, I must tell the story of Jesus in today’s world and not slip back into a comfortable silence.