17 Jun 22

Giving and Receiving Grace

Newsletter | Principal's Message

Grace is amazing.

A lovely word with a lovely meaning.

Grace is central to Christian faith. Many of our College parents are Christians, and many are from other faiths. So let me explain and explore ‘grace’ a little because it is so integral to the Christian faith.

Grace summarises the Gospel. And that’s a jolly big statement to make, because the Gospel is completely the central concept of Christianity.

You are familiar with grace. Sometimes you’ve given it, sometimes you’ve received it. Giving grace is making allowances for someone else. For example, if I forget to attend an important meeting, I am at fault. If the other members of the meeting reprimand me, I just have to ‘cop it on the chin’ because I was at fault. I deserve the reprimand, they may give the reprimand, however … they may instead, give me grace.

When people show grace, if they give us grace, they are sparing us the treatment we deserve. Instead of a penalty, a grace-giver gives us undeserved acceptance. Sometimes grace is defined as generous, free, undeserved favour. Another somewhat old-fashioned word for it is ‘clemency’. It is very similar in meaning to mercy; unmerited consideration.

It is true of all the virtues that when we give, we receive. This is true of giving grace. When we give grace, we receive something; we receive the attribute of graciousness. Giving grace to others, making allowances for one another is good. When we give grace, we are called ‘gracious’. Grace is a virtue, when we give it, we are virtuous. As St Francis of Assisi famously said: “It is in giving that we receive.”

So, giving grace is great. However, one tricky part of giving grace is that the only time we need to give grace is when the wrong thing has been done to us. Ouch! At best we will have been inconvenienced. At worst, we ourselves have been dreadfully wronged. So, while showing grace is good, and giving grace is admirable, the fact that we are even able to give grace to someone else means we have been already wronged by them … and what I find tricky about that is it usually means I don’t want to give grace at all.

When someone wrongs me, I feel annoyed, not gracious. When someone inconveniences me, I want to repay them in kind with unkindness. My whole inclination is away from graciousness and towards selfishness. Oh bother! Who will deliver me from my self-centred heart? Well, I thank Christ that He gives the strength for, and the example of grace-giving.

So, parents and staff, since we are a Christ-centred school, with the God of Grace at the core of all we do, let’s commit ourselves to giving grace. Let’s be gracious to one another as we imitate the great graciousness of God.

David Gleeson, Principal