Monday, September 17, 2007

Monday in the 24th Week of Ordinary Time (I)
Memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
God’s Ordinary Will

Readings: 1 Timothy 2:1-8; Psalms 28:2, 7, 8-9; Luke 7:1-10

At least in my own experience, there are two main situations when the term God's will is most used. God’s will is often actively sought when someone is discerning the possibility of a vocation to the priesthood or religious life. And it is also invoked when something bad happens: What to do? It’s God’s will. What this seems to indicate, at least implicitly, is that for many of us God’s will has to do with the extraordinary. It is most often used to refer to the source of an extraordinary vocation – the proportion of priests and religious to the general Christian population is small – or as a handy explanation for extraordinarily severe misfortune.

And yet, what we find in our readings today is an understanding of God’s will that is really quite ordinary. Consider, for example, the advice given in the first reading: first of all, there should be prayers offered for everyone – petitions, intercessions and thanksgiving – and especially for kings and others in authority, so that we may be able to live religious and reverent lives in peace and quiet… Prayers offered for everyone… so that we may be able to live… in peace and quiet… What could be more mundane? What could be more ordinary? And what’s more important to consider is the faith on which such prayers are based. We confidently pray in this way because we believe that God is interested to hear our very ordinary prayers for very ordinary things and people. Whatever may happen to us and whatever may be our respective vocations, we believe that God wants nothing else than that everyone be saved and reach full knowledge of the truth…

Indeed, God wants this so much that God does what Jesus is asked not to do in the gospel today: God takes the trouble. In Jesus, God takes the trouble to experience new things for our sake: the experience of becoming human, of being born, of growing up, of suffering and dying, of rising to new life. Above all else, this is the way in which God manifests God’s will to save. God takes the trouble to reach out to ordinary people in the ordinary circumstances of their lives.

And, like the devout centurion, in the gospel, we too are called to share in God’s will to save. Even as we continue to benefit from the trouble that God takes on our behalf, we too are invited to take the trouble to reach out to others, to be signs pointing to the healing and saving presence of Christ in our midst today. This too is God’s will, God’s ordinary will, for us all…

How are we being invited to carry this out today?

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