Written by Sr. Rosemary Finnegan, O.P.
Based on the readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/012919.cfm
Who of us hasn’t wrestled with the question: “Am I doing God’s will?” Five times we just repeated in our psalm: “Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.” So what is God’s will? How do we know what God wants us to do? What are some ways to determine what really is God’s will for us?
The first way, of course is prayer. We can take the examples of the great men and women of Scriptures who, when they didn’t know what to do, they prayed. They committed their concerns to the Lord. God’s plans for us become clearer when we seek God as our first priority. There’s a beautiful line in Jeremiah 29:11 that assures us what God wants for us overall: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
The second way is to seek counsel from others who know us and whom we trust. Be open to possible new ideas, and listen to the Spirit who is speaking through them.
Lastly, we follow Jesus’ example. Look to the strength and goodness of Jesus. He did nothing without the Father, and neither can we.
Aimee Cooper is a theologian who wrote this about God’s will:
“We tend to think of God’s will as always being specific actions, things He wants us to do, and so we need to discern them, what He would have us do. And there is truth to that.
What is the “will” in the first place? … the will is not what you do, but how you love, and what you love. The will is love itself. Love in turn leads you to things you love, and to do things you love.
We are to be like God, because we were created in His image and likeness. And God is love. Therefore His will is love. So maybe “doing God’s will” means in the first place not doing, but being: being like God, loving how God loves, and the things God loves, while freely acting as His children.”
Thomas Merton who was a convert to Catholicism, a poet, author of over 50 books, and eventually a Trappist Monk, spent most of his life discerning what God’s will was for him. He wrote the following prayer, which I’ll close with:
MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
- Thomas Merton, "Thoughts in Solitude"