I Come To Do Your Will
Second Sunday of the Year. Fr Isidore Clarke offers advice on how to discern God’s will.
These words are taken from today’s responsorial psalm. They form a bridge between the 1st Reading and the Gospel.In the 1st Reading we are told about God choosing and preparing a very, very special servant for Himself. He would be a light to the nations and would bring the Lord’s salvation to the ends of the earth. That prophecy was fulfilled in Christ. At His baptism the Father recognised Jesus as His beloved Son or Servant, and in the power of the Spirit He began to preach the Kingdom of God. The words, ‘Here I am Lord. I come to do your will’ sum up Christ’s life-long openness and obedience to his Father’s will. This would take Him to Gethsemane and the cross.
Today’s Gospel is about John the Baptist’s mission – to prepare the way of the Lord, firstly by urging the people to repent, then by pointing out Jesus as the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world. Finally, John would prepare Jesus Himself for His mission by baptizing Him. John realized that his personal mission was limited. Having done what God asked of him he was prepared to slip into the background so that Jesus could take centre stage.
‘Here I am Lord. I come to do your will’ sums up what should be our response to our Christian vocation. At our baptism God calls each one of us to serve Him and our neighbour. There are many ways in which we can do that. For most of us it will be as married or single lay people. Here also there are many possibilities. God will call others to serve Him in the priesthood or religious life. Each of us will have a particular and limited role in cooperating with God’s plan for the salvation to the world.
But sometimes it is very difficult for us to know what God is asking of us. With the young Samuel we may say, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.’ Rarely do people hear a voice from heaven telling them what God wants them to do. Instead, God helps us make up our minds through prayerful thought and inquiry. Wise advice, or someone simply acting as a sounding board, can be of great assistance.
Most of us experience the stretched-out anguish of being uncertain what God is asking of us. Long and distressing though this uncertainty may, it may an essential part of God’s plan for us during that particular time. He wants us to learn to wait on the Lord and to learn to be patient with Him and ourselves. If so, we will need a great deal of trust to believe God knows what He’s doing, even if we don’t. In this, and in all else, we should pray, ‘Thy will be done,’ as we place ourselves in God’s hands. It’s mighty hard to say and really mean such a prayer. All too often we attempt to make God our servant, rather than our being His – as though we could manipulate Him into doing our will, rather than our being set on doing His.
When we say, ‘Here I am Lord. I come to do your will’ we make ourselves open to God, willing to listen to Him, eager to do His will. We should not be like the two brothers in one of the parables. One enthusiastically agreed to do whatever his father asked of him, and yet didn’t get round to obeying him. The other brother, though at first reluctant to obey, eventually did so. Although not ideal, he was certainly better than the brother who was simply full of empty good intentions. But we are called to say and mean, ‘Here I am Lord. I come to do your will’ –come what may. Like the Blessed Virgin Mary each one of us is called to say, “Behold the handmaid or manservant of the Lord. Be it done to me according to your word.” God enables us to find fulfilment precisely in making His will our own.