- The Abbey of the Genesee - https://www.geneseeabbey.org -

January 29, 2019

Fr. Stephen Muller, OCSO

3rd Tuesday in Ordinary Time
Heb 10:1-10; Mk 3:31-35

The theme of our readings this morning seems to be doing the will of God. The refrain of the Responsorial Psalm is: “Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.” The final line of our Gospel Reading is: “For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” And the First Reading has: “Then I said, As is written of me in the scroll, Behold I come to do your will, O God.”

There seems to be a direct correlation between our inner happiness and peace and how much we’re doing God’s will. Our gut feeling can often let us know when we’re choosing our will over God’s will.

But it’s not always easy to discern what God’s will actually is. For us monks it’s somewhat simpler because we have the Rule to follow and the customs of the house and the Statutes of the Order. If we’re faithful to our vows of obedience and fidelity to the monastic way of life, a good portion of our decisions are mapped out for us. However, there are still situations when we can choose how we are going to spend the next chunk of time. God’s will in this case might not be completely obvious. A helpful guideline might be to choose what is better for the group rather than best for us personally. The group could be our monastic community here, the local community of our neighbors in this area, the state, the country, the Church, the world, the Communion of Saints. Continuing to make selfish decisions will not bring us happiness. But we’re entitled to a few selfish decisions, as long as nobody else gets neglected.

Another rule of thumb to use when faced with a decision: What will give more glory to God? If we’re motivated to do a certain thing in order to increase our own glory, watch out! More and more we need to get away from focusing on our own glory and moving toward doing everything for the greater glory of God. We need to be moving in the direction of transcending self-love and self-centeredness. We need to be stretching toward forgetfulness of self and let the love of others and the love of God be the determining force in our lives.

Sometimes we’re faced with major life decisions and we wish God’s will was a little more evident. “God, is this really what you want me to be doing with my life right now?” When God’s will isn’t real clear to us, our strong desire to be in his will has to suffice. Otherwise, we can torment ourselves and second-guess ourselves and lose our peace. We have to just make the best choice we can with the lights given us and say, “Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.” The ball is in God’s court, then; it’s up to him to let us know in a strong way if he wants us to do something else.

I know we’ve all heard Thomas Merton’s prayer a million times, but it’s apropos enough for this theme to use it one more time:

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 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.