Do to some different personal variable that have happened in my life the last few weeks, this is my first time that I have wanted to do editing of a post after it is posted. Call it a lesson for me in humility since I like to leave my work alone when I have supposedly “figured it out”. Nevertheless, I hope that this is an encouragement to those who read the first version and those new to my writing.
It is no small thing to figure out what God’s will is, even a piece of it, and go forward in life in accordance with it. I might compare it to eating an elephant: one bite at a time.
Assuming the hearers know what the will of God is, Jesus includes this in the teaching of “The Our Father”. What is more, Jesus teaches the hearers to ask for it to be done as follows.
“Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
The concept of God’s will being done should be understood first that God is love. The first way to misunderstand what God’s will is is having a wrong premise of how He is love. The type of love God is in the Greek is “Agape” which is divine, unlimited, unselfish love and always in the context of giving. Even in the trinity the members defer to one another in an eternal loop. Just looking at John 3:16 we see, “God so loved the world that He sent…” you likely know the rest. Within the communion of the Trinity the Father initiates and the Son reciprocates and the Holy Spirit proceeds always from both (the ancient word for this was the Filioque). Time does not exist for these three Who’s of The Divine What. This love with deference for the other two is in an eternal “now”. And thus the identity of “The I AM”.
But the world we live in is not made of agape. It is made of eros. Eros could be translated as, “I love you..based on what I can get out of you”. With this is a blindness so par for the course with sin. It is to instead defer to ones instant gratification so much that when Jesus comes on the scene their hatred was considered from the blindness of their hearts and because their deeds were evil. The evil deeds were part of a perpetual cycle of self-love that costs everything of a soul. Jesus pinpointed on this about “gaining the world but losing your soul”.
So with that in mind, God wants to remedy this situation with creation coming into that communion as described above which is His will. How has this been explored?
1: All man’s effort. Work for it in the midst of vague hints and the spiritual elite are full of the stuff to ascend to that. This does not work because God is love and does not create people to be elitists. This is why Plegianism was condemned at the papal level in the 400’s.
2: God coerces. This would be God blowing our socks off by interupting life everywhere and every way. This would be so imposing that the independent will of the individual is hampered and faith stops being a substance.
3: The still small voice of God in universal truth with a universal message with a universal community in mind that works in cooperation with God’s will. Though I appreciate my conversions experience to Jesus as a boy knowing Him as my, “personal Lord and Savior”, this is only a start. God has a message of his will for salvation through a still, small voice but as Lord and Savior for the world the megaphone of the announcement of salvation is through the Catholic Church. Through such a community God would use people in cooperation with Him. When integrating The Magesterium, Tradition and Scripture, it shines bright as, “the pillar and foundation of truth” (1 Timothy 3:15).
But how does cooperation with God’s will look for the individual? In the history of God redeeming the world there were important people with sin and they cooperated imperfectly.
Until you come to Mary of Nazareth. She says, “Let it be done to me according to your word” in context of being told she would bear the Son of God. She had been so filled with grace that there was not room for anything else: namely sin. By her faith and work she is the “Mother of God” (Council of Ephesus, 431).
The conception happened in the context of her having been filled with grace unto a work of cooperation. Are you filled with grace now? Can you be? Ask and see how God could call you in your own unique way to carry the grace and truth realized in Jesus Christ into the world around you. You could lose the world, but gain your soul living fearlessly in holiness.
But another important point from the turning point person in salvation history is the simple message of Mary when speaking to the servants preparing the way for Jesus to change water to wine, “Do whatever He tells you”. We can do the former and declare the latter.
I have only addressed somewhat where we can come to a knowledge of God’s will and exhort others to His will but the heart of abiding and interceding in Christ is where both meet. We abide as we “behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:19) and are scandalized because our deeds are evil. But if in humility and grace we get past that, the scandalous Christ on the cross becomes our righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21) and such an engrafted word of God will save our souls (James 1:21). It is perhaps because the wild ride of faith is so examplified through Mary that Jesus said to John on the cross, “Behold your mother” as she knew God as Savior connecting to our redemption. The Father meet us in the process.
“How much more reason have we sinful creatures to learn obedience – we who in him have become children of adoption. We ask our Father to unite our will to his Son’s, in order to fulfill his will, his plan of salvation for the life of the world. We are radically incapable of this, but united with Jesus and with the power of his Holy Spirit, we can surrender our will to him and decide to choose what his Son has always chosen: to do what is pleasing to the Father (Catechism of The Catholic Church 2825).
The further we go in such union, the more in line we are in God’s purposes until salvation for the world is our highest prayer. “Consider how Jesus Christ teaches us to be humble, by making us see that our virtue does not depend on our work alone but on grace from on high. He commands each of the faithful who prays to do so universally, for the whole world. For he did not say “thy will be done in me or in us,” but “on earth,” the whole earth, so that error may be banished from it, truth take root in it, all vice be destroyed on it, virtue flourish on it, and earth no longer differ from heaven” (St. John Chrysostom, 4th century). This is one boundary that we do want blurry when it is for the one between heaven and earth so that the Lord’s Prayer is fulfilled in and through us.