St. Joseph Province

Missionaries Of Compassion

“Do as I have done” Jn 13,15


But For The Grace of God

My mother used to play a game with me called: “There, but for the grace of God, go I”

It happened when I was eight or nine years old. I have forgotten the details. All that I remember is that my mother and 1 were out walking one beautiful afternoon. It happened so suddenly that 1 wanted to break out laughing, and my mother asked what was so funny. 1 pointed to a very, very fat lady who was waddling along in front of us like a big duck.

Suddenly, as if struck by lightning, my mother stood absolutely still and let go of my hand. She was -not smiling and her first words were said reluctantly. She bent down toward me so that our faces were almost touching, then said, “There, but for the grace of God, go I”

Then she said to me, “Can you repeat those words, my child?” I repeated the words but I did not know what they meant. Then she said to me, “You should make a game of these words. Every time you see someone who is too heavy or too light, cross-eyed or bow-legged, bad-tempered or disfigured or ugly, a slow learner or awkward, just imagine that you are in that person’s skin.”

I liked that idea and have played that game year after year: “There, but for the grace of God, go I”

_ Gloria Swanson

We admire and appreciate beauty and perfection; we shy away from or even laugh at and ridicule the victims of natural defects. But often the beauty we appreciate and the ugliness we scorn are not acquired by own efforts, but simply the way they were born. Except for the Grace of God we could just have been that person. Awareness of this basic truth would keep us humble and grateful on the hand and sympathetic and compassionate on the other.

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