I Have Come to Do Your Will: Choosing to Do the Will of God in our Lives
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As our conversation ensued I detected in her an understandable concern for the resources, emotional, spiritual, relational and financial, which one choice they might make could entail. I told the wife and mother of the family to let go and do what God asks, not worrying about whether the resources and means would be made available. I made it eminently clear that I did not know Gods specific will for them in this critical choice - but I did know of Gods faithfulness. As they persisted in their questions, I told them that my experience has been that when He asks He always provides the means and the resources.
CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - In our response to the Psalm at this Sunday Mass we say or sing together words taken from Psalm 40, Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
The refrain pulls together all three of our readings in its central affirmation. It points us toward the path to holiness, human flourishing and joy through participation in the loving plan of God for our own lives. It also helps us begin to perceive our part in the work of the Church. We are all called, in accordance with our state in life and specific vocation, to do the Will of God.
In our first reading we recount the words spoken through the great messianic Hebrew Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 49:3,5-6) as we consider their fulfillment in our own lives, we were formed by the Lord in our mothers' wombs. (see also, Jeremiah 1:5, Psalm 139:1) Some painful implications of this truth became clear on this week when our Nation again mourns a day of National darkness and sin.
This week is the 41st anniversary of the infamous decisions of the US Supreme Court in the Roe and Doe opinions. Those decisions removed the protection given to our youngest neighbors in the womb and denied them their fundamental human right to life by the stroke of a judicial pen. Almost 57 million children are dead as a result of our National sin.
The words spoken through the Prophet also point us toward the hope which still informs our mission in life, I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth. God continues His work through you and me as we learn the way of surrendered love and choose to do His will. As much as it was not His Will for our Nation to become a destroyer of our children, it is His Will that we work to restore the protections which must be given to every human life, at every age and stage of life.
Our second reading is brief and may seem to have little upon which to reflect. It is the salutation from the first letter which the Apostle Paul wrote to the early church living in Corinth. (1 Cor. 1: 1-3) He identifies himself as Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God. Yet, upon closer consideration, its depth is revealed to those with the eyes of living faith. Nothing more is necessary and nothing else really matters. Paul had discovered the will of God for His Life and was seeking by grace to live it out in accordance with his particular vocation.That is the meaning of our own lives as well.
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Then in our Gospel the beloved Disciple John recounts the words of John the Baptizer when he saw the Lord Jesus coming toward him (John 1:29-34). John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. He is the one of whom I said, 'A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.' I did not know him, but the reason why I came baptizing with water was that he might be made known to Israel."
John testified further, saying, "I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven and remain upon him. I did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God."
The message, manner of life and martyrdom of John the Baptizer reveal what it means to do the Will of God. He recognized who Jesus was, what His mission was - and then He conformed His own life to furthering that end. John understood that life wasn't all about him. He emptied himself willingly. He points to the path of true freedom, living a lifestyle of self emptying." He must increase and I must decrease". (John 3:30) He shows us how to discern the Will of God. It is revealed fully in Jesus Christ.
I recently spent some time with a family which I believe has a significant role to play in our Nation. They have already done much, but there may be more for them to do. The wife and mother of this dear family kept asking me, with utter sincerity, "How do I know the Will of God." The sincerity of the question put my heart at rest. Questions of will - Gods and our own - touch the foundation of the moral life by engaging our human freedom. They also reveal the presence of living faith in a sincere Christian man or a woman.
The Lord wants us to freely choose Him. The Apostle Paul proclaimed to the Galatians. It was for freedom that Christ set us free (Gal 5:1) Our Catechism explains, Man's freedom is limited and fallible. In fact, man failed. He freely sinned. (Catechism #1739) Sin fractured our freedom. It is is the wood of the Cross which becomes the splint to restore it as we cooperate with grace. Jesus Christ has saved us from sin and capacitated us to live differently for Him He now invites us to choose Him over our own selfish pursuits so that we might find authentic happiness by conforming our will to His Will.
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The Catechism explains that Freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one's own responsibility. By free will one shapes one's own life. Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness; it attains its perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude.(CCC# 1731)
We are invited by our readings to choose to do the Will of God. To line up our will with His Will. To live our specific vocation in fidelity to the Mission entrusted to us. Let me give an example. Though I am a cleric, a deacon, I am not a celibate. I am a married man, a husband, father and grandfather. I have lived the vocation of Marriage in Christ for thirty eight years.
And, I know that it is just that - a vocation - a call to follow the Lord in a specific way and, in so doing, to grow in holiness, participate in the life of God and be involved in the continuing mission of Jesus Christ as He walks it out through His Body, the Church, of which the domestic Church of the Christian family is a cell.
In the stuff of everyday life I am called to accept the hidden invitations to love found in Christian Marriage and Family life. The Greek word translated emptied in the letter of St Paul to the Philippians is kenosis. He wrote concerning our call to enter into the self emptying of Jesus, Have this mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus, who though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself.(Phil. 2:5)
This Greek word refers to the voluntary pouring out-like water-of oneself in sacrificial love. This emptying is the proper response to the One who first loved us. It lies at the heart of every vocation. For those called to live Christian marriage and family life. There is a domestic kenosis, a domestic emptying out in the ordinary stuff of daily life. There is also a domestic ascesis, a way of living an ascetical life, by embracing the struggles involved in this vocation in Christ.
Christian Marriage is a Sacrament, a participation in the very life of God. We cooperate with the Lord's invitation to follow Him by exercising our human freedom; we choose to give ourselves away in love to the other, our spouse. Together we pour ourselves out for God's children entrusted to our care. In so doing, we are transformed into an image, a living icon, of Jesus Christ and participate in His own Kenosis. Then, out of that base of practical holiness we participate in the Mission of the Church by living in the world which He still loves so much that He sends His Son (John 3:16) - through you and me.
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As our conversation ensued I detected in her an understandable concern for the resources, emotional, spiritual, relational and financial, which one choice they might make could entail. I told the wife and mother of the family to let go and do what God asks, not worrying about whether the resources and means would be made available. I made it eminently clear that I did not know Gods specific will for them in this critical choice - but I did know of Gods faithfulness.
As they persisted in their questions, I told them that my experience has been that when He asks He always provides the means and the resources. However, He also invites us to respond in living faith. I directed them to the 11th chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews which reminds us in its opening words that, faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
I have prayed every day since our meeting for this dear family and the important decision they must make very soon. Among the many prayers which provide a springboard in my own daily choice to surrender to the Will of God is a beautiful prayer of entrustment to the Will of God by John Henry Cardinal Newman called I Have a Mission with which I conclude:
God knows me and calls me by my name..
God has created me to do Him some definite service;
He has committed some work to me
which He has not committed to another.
I have my mission-I never may know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next.
Somehow I am necessary for His purposes.
I have a part in this great work;
I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection
He has not created me for naught. I shall do good,
I shall do His work;
I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth
in my own place, while not intending it,
if I do but keep His commandments
and serve Him in my calling.
Therefore I will trust Him.
Whatever, wherever I am,
I can never be thrown away.
If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him;
In perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him;
If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him.
My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be
necessary causes of some great end,
which is quite beyond us.
He does nothing in vain; He may prolong my life,
He may shorten it;
He knows what He is about.
He may take away my friends,
He may throw me among strangers,
He may make me feel desolate,
make my spirits sink, hide the future from me-
still He knows what He is about..
Let me be Thy instrument. I ask not to see-
I ask not to know-I ask simply to be used.
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