God’s Will

3 OT, God’s Will, 2023

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.”  God’s will was also mentioned in today’s gospel and our first reading. 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 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.”  

Today we honor St. Francis de Sales who certainly did a lot of discerning in his life to determine what was God’s will for him.  Francis was born into a noble and wealthy family in France in 1567, the oldest of 6 boys.  Francis’ father destined him to be a lawyer so he could eventually follow his father who was a Senator.  He received a quality education, but after graduation, Francis told his parents he wanted to enter the priesthood which disappointed them greatly.  Eventually, however, they accepted his decision.

He had a gentle spirit and became known for his preaching to the Calvinists, hearing confessions and his writings, especially his two well-known books “The Introduction to the Devout Life” and “A Treatise on the Love of God”.  At 35, he became bishop of Geneva, and in spite of his busy life, he collaborated with another saint, Jane Frances de Chantal, to establish the Sisters of the Visitation.  Our own St. Margaret Mary eventually became a Visitation Sister.

Francis’ good nature, kindness and his persistent sunny disposition won for him the title of “Gentleman Saint”.  His discernment of the will of God in his youth, and his decision to become a priest, was certainly confirmed by the love he shared with so many in his pastoral ministry.

St. Francis de Sales, guide us as we discern and live out God’s will for ourselves.