Can a Catholic lay person extend or give “grace” to others?

Q. My question is about “grace.” Can we, as lay people in the Catholic faith, extend or give “grace” to others?

In the interests of full disclosure, I should acknowledge first that I am Protestant. But let me then say that as I understand the Catholic expression of our shared Christian faith, while only a priest may do things such as administer the sacraments and absolve people after confession, every believer may be a channel of grace to others in many ways. Some of these are described in the Bible.

For example, Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “Let no harmful word come out of your mouth, but only what is beneficial for building others up according to the need, so that it gives grace to those who hear it.” As another version of the Bible translates this, “When you talk, don’t say anything bad. Say the good things that people need—whatever will help them grow stronger. Then what you say will be a blessing to those who hear you.” So simply in the way we speak, in the things we say and the things we realize we shouldn’t say, we can be a channel of God’s grace to other people.

For his part, Peter wrote in his first epistle, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” In other words, God has given each person part of his grace to take care of, for the sake of others, in the form of a gift that we can use to serve them. When we do that, we similarly become a channel of God’s grace to them. As another version of the Bible expresses this, “Each of you has been blessed with one of God’s many wonderful gifts to be used in the service of others. So use your gift well.”

These are just two of the ways in which we can all extend God’s grace to other people. Basically, anything we do as faithful followers of Jesus that enables another person to realize more of God’s love for them makes us a channel of grace. There is probably no limit to the number of things that might involve.

Author: Christopher R Smith

The Rev. Dr. Christopher R. Smith is an an ordained minister, a writer, and a biblical scholar. He was active in parish and student ministry for twenty-five years. He was a consulting editor to the International Bible Society (now Biblica) for The Books of the Bible, an edition of the New International Version (NIV) that presents the biblical books according to their natural literary outlines, without chapters and verses. His Understanding the Books of the Bible study guide series is keyed to this format. He was also a consultant to Tyndale House for the Immerse Bible, an edition of the New Living Translation (NLT) that similarly presents the Scriptures in their natural literary forms, without chapters and verses or section headings. He has a B.A. from Harvard in English and American Literature and Language, a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Gordon-Conwell, and a Ph.D. in the History of Christian Life and Thought, with a minor concentration in Bible, from Boston College, in the joint program with Andover Newton Theological School.

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