Earlier this week, I received an email from a woman who recently broke-up with her fiancé. She wrote, “I was accepting it as God’s will. However, a friend told me that God doesn’t micromanage the world … He just wants me to be happy with whatever that may be. That confused me so much … it’s almost easier for me to think that my breakup was God’s will. Can you give me any insight to what it means to do God’s will? What is God’s will?”
I replied, “Ultimately, God’s will is not about a single person or a moment in time but our entire life. God seeks intimate, personal, loving and life-giving communion with us, and the fulfillment of His will comes when we unreservedly seek the same kind of relationship with Him. This is not about emotion or feelings but the mysterious encounter with the Living God in everyday life, even in the midst of pain and suffering. When you pray, ask God that His holy will be done in your life always and at all times, and let His will unfold. Don’t try to find God’s will under every rock. If you are patient, His Will will become clear.”
Sometimes it’s not easy to know and to do God’s will. We know that we need to pray but so often struggle to maintain an active and fruitful prayer life amidst the busyness and chaos of the world around us. We know that God calls us to live according to His law and His truth, yet we struggle every day to say “yes” to God: to end bad habits and vices, to break the cycle of physical and emotional abuse, to control addiction and sinful desires. Sometimes our weakness overwhelms us and the Cross feels so heavy that we buckle under its weight. Yet, it is when we are down that the Lord lifts us up, it is when we’re not looking that the Lord seeks and finds us, it is when we are weak that Christ is strong!
This joyous season of Easter, when we celebrate Christ’s triumph over death and the outpouring of the Heavenly Father’s limitless mercy, is a time to seek forgiveness, a time for strengthening our relationship with Christ, a time to be open to the Holy Spirit, a time to reflect on the meaning and purpose of our lives. Prayer—particularly the Rosary and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy—as well as fasting opens our eyes and urges us to peer into the darkness of our spiritual poverty and pain—to come face-to-face with those desires within us that seek to separate us from Christ and His Church. This is the time when we build up the courage to kick Satan to the curb and turn toward the voice of the Lord who calls us to life!
In order to hear the Lord calling us, we must do what the devil does not want us to do: acknowledge that we have turned away from God, then turn ourselves toward Him once more—to experience a deep conversion and a profound transformation of our hearts. The Lord God—speaking His Word through the prophet Joel—shows us exactly how to do this: “Return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God. For gracious and merciful is He, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment” (Joel 2:13).
The psalms give us the example of David who sought God’s mercy and forgiveness through his own conversion after his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba, “My offenses, truly I know them. My sin is always before me. Against you, you alone have I sinned. What is evil in your sight I have done” (Psalm 51:5-6). Armed with the weapons of prayer and the sacraments, we “rend our hearts” turning back to our gracious and merciful God. Yet we do not repent in order to be rewarded by God but to show our love and dedication to His Son; to show the world that our faith is a gift to be given and shared.
Our Lord told Saint Faustina of the mercy He wants to give to the world, if only we will believe in His love. If we’re honest with ourselves, we realize that we are often lukewarm at best. Sunday after Sunday we hear the Word of God and receive our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist and yet we walk away, for the most part, unchanged knowing full well that Christ is calling us to change our lives, to become one with Him, which means we must reject popular opinion and the ways of the world. We allow ourselves just enough faith to be comfortable until that faith calls us to stand-up for the truth that makes us uncomfortable. Then, like the Apostles, we lock the doors of our minds and hearts, cowering in the fear of being rejected and unpopular.
This is the depth of the love and mercy that God the Father has for us: His Son endured the cross, carrying the weight of our sins on his shoulders. In His tremendous suffering, He was allowed to experience alienation from God and endured death, the ultimate consequence of sin. But by His resurrection, Christ has conquered sin; He has triumphed over death and has shattered the gates of Hell. To be one with Him, we must be willing to enter into and share in the sufferings of Christ, to become living witnesses of the Eucharistic Lord; to truly become what we receive.
Here is the bottom line: God’s love is so immense, its power so limitless, and its embrace so tender and intimate, that Love Himself brings forth life. God has created us in His image and likeness, has written His law of love and life into our very being, and has allowed us to share in His very life. God invites us through His Only Son, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to draw deeply from the wellspring of salvation. He invites us in the sacraments, most especially in Reconciliation and the Eucharist, to unite ourselves to Him in the deepest and greatest possible way. He calls us to works of mercy to show that we love Him as much as He loves us.
Living in the heart of God’s divine mercy and will unites us with the Cross of Christ where we offer everything we have and everything we are in loving sacrifice to our heavenly Father in fulfillment of His Will. As we carry our Cross along the way—as our shoulders bear the burdens of this life—let us cry out to God without fear and say, “Save me, O God, for the waters have risen to my neck. I have entered the waters of the deep and the waves overwhelm me” (Psalm 69:1-2). Yet we know that God, in His great love, will turn toward us with compassion—that He will open His heart and redeem us. And when the day of rejoicing comes, let us praise God with the angels and saints, and sing with joy: “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; for His love endures forever” (Psalm 118:29).
©2012 Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers