January 2021 Allocutio

Thy Will be done

Fr. Paul Churchill

People are asking, “When can we get back to where we were?” The answer is that we will never go back to where we were because life is always going forward, it is always changing. No matter how or when we get over the present difficulties we will never emerge where we were before.

God made us to go forward, not to go back. God put the eyes at the front of our heads so that we could look forward and go forward. Do you remember the story of Lot’s wife? She looked back.Why? Drawn maybe to where sin used to be or maybe to gloat over the destruction of sinners? But she is a lesson from God that we must keep going forward, the landscape of life always changing.

Sometimes the tentacles of the past hold people back. Our sins can hold us up and prevent our going forward. But forgiveness releases us from the chains of guilt or enslavement to unhealthy ways so we can go on with our lives. The gift of forgiveness is designed to give life, not to block life.

If some hurt from our past drags us back some good experience may also draw us away from going on. Perhaps the future looks shaky and the old ways seem more secure and we are tempted to retreat. Going forward can require, indeed always requires courage. God’s disposition is that we go forward. We are not designed to go back. I wish now to illustrate this with two examples we know well.

The visit of the angel Gabriel to Mary changed her future. Mary had her own plan for her future. Now God was going to ask her to go another way. It would be very different and had implications for us all. Mary agreed to go forward the new way and trust God. “Be it done into me according to your word!” She had no idea of what lay ahead no more than we know what this New Year has in store for us. Like her, the only disposition we can hold is, “Be it done to us according to your will” and trust God. Whether the vaccines solve the problem or whether a fly will appear in the ointment we do not know. “Be it done to us according to your word!” is the standard Mary has shown us.

Just imagine if the dialogue between Gabriel and Mary had gone another way:

“I’ve to give birth in a stable? Are you serious!”

“Joseph and me and the baby will have to take refuge in Egypt? Oh, come on!”

“This Saviour will still be living at home at 30 and not married? Really!”

“My baby will be killed on a Cross! Are you a psycho or something?”

Our Lady had no hesitation when asked to go forward on a road not of her own planning, not knowing where it would lead. She knew that God is boss, that he is indeed God with all things subject to him, that he is on our side with our good in mind. You can give a blind date to God, a blank cheque. It will not go astray. So let us say YES to this year and go ahead assured.

The other example is from the Garden of Gethsemane. “Father, not my will but thine be done!” Jesus was going forward to a difficult end. The disciples had warned him, “Master, they wanted to stone you. Are you going back?” (Jn 11:8). “Now my soul is in distress. Shall I say ‘Father save me from this hour?’ But I have come to this hour to face it all” (Jn 12:27). While we can fear what might be his humanity trembles at what will be. But still those words, “Not my will but thine be done!” That is the disposition of heart he puts before us as an example as he faces into the last lap, so to speak.

As he leaves the Upper Room after the Last Supper he says, “Come. Let us go” (Jn 14:31) and as we begin this year let us go forward with him, heeding his words, “You will have trouble in the world, but courage, I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33).

So let us go forward trusting the future. It is all in his hands. Let us commend it to the care of Mary also asking her to help us say from our hearts, with her, “Be it done to me according to your Word!”