As I was reflecting on today’s readings, something stood out for me about St. Paul and his call to be an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God. Paul was always a very zealous, passionate man. Whatever he was studying and whatever his focus was, he put everything into it. Unfortunately, before his experience at Damascus, his passion and zeal was towards persecuting the first Christians. He was well educated, talented and well liked amongst the elders and the chief priests. As Christianity began to spread, Paul, like all the elders at the time, was beginning to become afraid and felt he needed to put an end to the spreading of the message of Jesus Christ. However, on one important day, as Paul was on his way to Damascus to give a decree to imprison all Christians, he encountered Jesus Christ. He was struck down, blinded and heard the voice, “Why are you persecuting me?” Paul’s life would never be the same again. Before his encounter with Christ, it was HIS will that was being done. After the encounter with Christ, it was God’s will that was being done.
Before his conversion, Augustine was a man that went about his life according to his own will. Although brilliant, he did everything his way. He lived a life of unbridled freedom, embracing all the pleasures of his day and age. Finally, on his path to conversion, while he was rolling in the mud, fighting the intellectual battle about who God is, and what He is doing he finally resigned his will, gave up and let God’s grace work in his life. St. Augustine was a man who turned his life around by living according to the will of God, not according to his own will and passions.
These types of stories of saints are not uncommon. Although the particular circumstances and events about each of their stories are different, the saints have one thing in common and that is they live their life according to the will of God. The saint is one who does the will of God.
In the second reading today, we hear St. Paul’s greeting to the church of God in Corinth. His greeting in his letter is not like what we hear in today’s letters and emails, but is a profound greeting explaining who he is, who they are, and what they, together, are called to do by the grace of God. And that same message is given to us today, we are called to be saints. And if we are called to be saints, then we too must be able to say from the depths of our hearts and the surrendering of our will, “Thy will be done.”
For myself, I remember a homily from when I was in high school and an altar server at my home parish. The Gospel was when Jesus teaches the apostles how to prayer the Our Father. The message of the homily was clear and simple for me, we pray all the time the Our Father when we say the rosary and at Mass, Thy will be done. But, most of the time for us, is it not “Our will be done?” Throughout my life, that message constantly resurfaced as I went off to university and finally, surrendering my will to God I put in my application to the seminary and was able to say and am saying to this day, whatever your will Lord, so be it.
But, getting to this stage and having the attitude of “Thy will be done” is not easy. I still struggle with it, when things do not go my way or events and situations where I have no control, I try and force the situation to go according to my will. All this does is end up with me being frustrated and getting angry, losing peace and essentially losing sight of Jesus. This is the effect of sin in our life. We want things always to go our way, and when things don’t go our way, we get angry and upset.
So, we turn to Jesus, who is the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” It is Jesus, the Son of God, who we must encounter if we are to have any success at doing God’s will and answering God’s call to be a saint. Look again at St. Paul, St. Augustine and all the saints who have given their life and their will to God so that His will may reign in their hearts and they may be his servants. They all encountered Jesus in a profound way and it changed their life. We too must encounter Jesus as well.
By the very fact that you have come to Church today means that you desire, deep down in your heart, to encounter Jesus. It is at Mass, in the sacrifice of the altar where we come to encounter Jesus in the most Blessed Sacrament. Let us today, as we receive Him in this sacrament proclaim in our hearts, “Here am I Lord, I come to do your will.” May this be our attitude to every day of our life, day in and day out, when we rise in the morning till we go to bed at night, “Here am I Lord, I come to your will.”