GARCIA: Where do we see the ‘Face of Grace’?

April 12, 2022

(Pascal Deloche / Godong)

During Easter, we celebrate Jesus’s resurrection and victory over death. In doing so, we open our hearts to renew our Baptismal promises, recalling our death to sin and our resurrected life in Christ.

Easter is the most important season of our faith as we celebrate the fulfillment of God’s promise of our salvation made through the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. Fulfilled despite our failings so that we could be joined to God once again, we receive the unmerited and undeserved gift of love of God — which we call grace — made available through Jesus so that we too may experience the joy of our own resurrected life.

Celebrating the joy of the resurrection in Easter, we can too reflect on our own personal resurrection moments — moments where we encountered Christ and, through the grace of God, redirected our lives, whether it was through a family member, friend, neighbor or even a stranger.

Moments in which someone gave a face to Jesus and exemplified God’s grace, leading us away from a life of sin. Moments in which we give thanks but also seek to imitate as disciples of Christ, seeking to be the face of Jesus — the face of grace — to those we encounter as well.

As a pastoral minister of Special Youth Services, a ministry of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and funded by the Diocesan Services Fund (DSF), we serve youth ages 10 to 17 within juvenile detention centers in five counties. These are youth dealing with their own challenges from chaos within their household, poverty or traumas, just to name a few, living with the weight of their own sins and the weight of the judgment cast on them by society. Cast on them from people like you and me who may overlook their own sinfulness but may be quick to condemn them as “bad kids.”

But like many of us, these youth, in their moment of despair, turn to prayer for the hope of a new life. A life outside those walls and within an environment where they can be successful despite their past life. A life of grace found only in Christ.

Special Youth Services, through its mentors and Bible studies, serves as a ministry of encounters. Throughout five counties within the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, including Harris County, our volunteers provide a face for Jesus — a face of grace. Seeing the smiles on the youth when volunteers arrive or walking up in excitement to ask for prayer is the experience of the weight of their sins and judgment being lifted, if at least for a moment, as they experience God’s unmerited, undeserved and unconditional love from the volunteers called to this ministry. It is their resurrection moment.

This Easter, may we look with great faith toward God and the power of the resurrection of Jesus to encourage us to value each encounter with these youth or any other brothers or sisters in need as the opportunity to be the face of grace and bring forth more resurrection moments. 

Deacon Fernando Garcia is a pastoral minister with the office of Special Youth Services.