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Surrendering to the Will of God

Surrendering to the Will of God

June 10, 2024

Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother” (Mk 3:35).  Whoever does the ‘will of God’ is in intimate communion with the Divine Presence.  As followers of Jesus, we are to do as he did: placing the will of God at the center of our lives.  Nothing is more important than this.  Nothing!  Let us explore this a little.  Endemic to human nature is this dialectic of human will and the will of God.  For any discernment, no matter how small, we are to reflect, to pray, to look at something from different angles or different perspectives but always from the central optic of what does God want.  Is this what God wills for me?  Is this what God wills for my community, my Church, the world?

I quoted these words from Edith Stein during Lent: “Surrender is the highest act of freedom” (Essential Writings, p.145).  While we may agree with these words, they are not easy to live.  It is perhaps what Jesus means when he refers to the ‘narrow way, not the wide road, that leads to life’ (Mt 7:14).  How, then, can we discern God’s will, open ourselves to hear ‘the small still voice of the Spirit’ when the ego is so tightly in charge?  The silent space which the act of surrender places us in, is where we will encounter the Divine will…God will speak and act in these open spaces of surrender.

Edith Stein has more profound words about ‘surrender’ and human will.  She says: “What we can and must do is open ourselves to grace; that means to renounce our own will completely and to give it captive to the divine will, to lay our whole soul, ready for reception and formation, into God’s hands” (p.64).  I find her words very moving, and we know that she indeed lived them fully, and of course not without struggle.  I do think we all want to lay our soul open for reception and formation by God and it is important to know that this is a process, it does not happen quickly.  It is a life’s process where each step of the way we are supported by grace, and we do begin to see the fruit of it in our lives. 

In the first part of today’s gospel Jesus is met by the scribes and Pharisees who accuse him of casting out demons through Beelzebul, the prince of demons (Mk 3:22-30).  Keep in mind that these persons are the upholders of the Law…the law of God.  Who are the scribes denying and blaspheming in their accusation?  They are blaspheming against God’s Love, God’s healing love, God’s saving power present and active in Jesus.  We too can fall prey to this level of contempt as we heard from the reading of Fr. Simeon last night at vigil.  He wrote in his commentary on this passage: “The depths of human contempt normally wear the mask of cynical indifference, smiling apathy, genteel surfeit” (Fire of Mercy, vol II, p.121).  What can help us face contempt in whatever way or form we may meet it within ourselves or in others?  The will of God is the foundation for discerning what is right, for living from the truth, for serving Life, peace, and justice.  Surrendering to the silent depths within and praying to know the way of God opens us to the Divine reality, the larger horizon of God’s immense love and mercy. Surrender makes room for God’s grace to be effective within us; it is the only way forward if we are to be led by God in all things.  Even when we are not sure if this is God’s way, entering this surrendering space to ponder and to pray, keeps us connected to God, and to a heart that is pure in its intention.

I conclude with these words of Edith Stein: “Whoever truly wants, in…faith, nothing more but what God wills, has with God’s grace, reached the highest state a human being can reach” (Essential Writings, p.153).

Sr. Kathy DeVico, Abbess

Chapter Talk – Tenth Sunday of the Year – June 9, 2024, cycle-B

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