The 4th Sunday of Advent and the Will of the Father
"There are only two kinds of people in the end; those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done'" ~ C.S. Lewis "The Great Divorce"
As we delve into the Readings earmarked for the 4th Sunday of Advent, our prevailing theme is one of hope, eager anticipation, and a yearning for justice as the world awaits the arrival of the newborn King. Mary and Elizabeth's excitement is palpable as they alternate between joy for this new kingdom and an inquisitive discussion as to why Mary was chosen. As we learned nearly two weeks ago in the celebration of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Mary was as surprised to have been chosen as she was faithful and dutiful in her response, never wavering in her desire to fulfill the will of God. In believing that "with God all things are possible", she in fact displayed perfect faith in her desire to be, as she put it, the handmaid of the Lord.
We as a Parish Community declare in unison "thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven" every Sunday during the Our Father and of course Jesus, in His defining moment leading up to Good Friday, asks God to take away this cross He is destined to bear, quickly qualifying this wish however by stating "not My will be done, but Yours".
But Jesus didn't wait until the eve of His seminal moment on the cross to display His complete obedience to God's will. Hebrews 10:5-10, appropriately chosen for the Second Reading, proves just that:
Brothers and sisters: When Christ came into the world, he said: "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; in holocaust and sin offerings you took no delight. Then I said 'As is written of me in the scroll, behold I come to do your will, O God.'" First he says "Sacrifices and offerings, holocausts and sin offerings, you neither desired no delighted in." These were offered according to the law. Then he says "Behold, I come to do your will." He takes away the first to establish the second. By this "will," we have been consecrated through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
We know that it isn't always easy to put the will of God before our own. There's a natural tendency to believe that we know what's best for us, and through God's gift of free will we are certainly able to pursue our own self-interests under the guise of "true freedom.” Choosing to do drugs for instance is an example of free will in action. But how free is a person who ultimately becomes shackled by the chains of addiction, essentially becoming a slave to the poison of his or her choice? God's will tends to take you down the road less traveled. It won't gain you access to the hottest clubs or invites to the Playboy Mansion, and it certainly won't leave you "trending" on Twitter. But anyone who has truly opened his or her ears and heart to the will of God will without exception tell you that it was the moment they achieved true freedom in their lives, as counter intuitive as that may sound to many. Of course if you truly believe that God wants you to be happy, logic dictates that it would be a very sound leap of faith, a declaration of faith in reality. God surely wouldn't lead you down the road to unhappiness if the fulfillment of His will is a core component of achieving this happiness.
Christmas is in fact upon us. Jesus will soon be born with the fervent desire to do God's will, and He will be born to a woman who also chose God's will, as murky and mysterious as it might have appeared to her on the night of the Annunciation. We have certainly been given two great role models. The moment "my will be done" becomes "thy will be done,” one is ready to embark on the true path to spiritual freedom and enlightenment.
“The virgin shall conceive, and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel.” ~ Matthew 1:23