When We Don’t Understand God’s Will
22nd Sunday Ordinary Time
September 3, 2023
“You are thinking, not as God does, but as human beings do.”
from Matthew 16:21-27
Saint Faustina’s diary, Divine Mercy in My Soul, is a real spiritual classic (and a very large book!) that I have read several times, highlighting all the best parts. The revelations and conversations she had with the Lord led directly to the establishment of Divine Mercy Sunday as the Second Sunday after Easter. In her diary, she freely shares her struggles with community living and the tasks God had given her to do in life, many of which made her feel inadequate, though she always trusted the Lord completely.
Jesus made it clear to her at one point that she was to oversee the founding of a new religious community, dedicated to Divine Mercy. Saint Faustina, though very open to whatever God wished of her, nevertheless was often terrified of the idea of leaving the security of her Polish convent to undertake this new venture. She was even given the grace of audible conversations with Jesus about this in prayer. Yet in the end she was mistaken. Although she was convinced that God’s will would lead to her departure from the convent in the future, even with her gift of having extraordinary communication with the Lord, Jesus very carefully did not reveal the actual future to her but let her believe he might ask her to actually do this terrifying thing almost to the end. Yet amazingly, although this community did come into existence based on her writings, she herself never lived to actually found it herself, but died in the convent of her profession.
I love this story because it shows that no matter how close we are to the Lord, we cannot always know how things will turn out though we are sure of God’s will. Peter and the other disciples were sure that they knew what God would want. Certainly, they knew God’s will, that the Messiah would ultimately be a conqueror, throwing the Romans out. Dying on a cross couldn’t possibly be God’s plan for God’s anointed, and so they repeatedly dismissed this, even though our Lord spoke often of it to them.
“You are thinking, not as God does, but as human beings do.” God’s will often comes to us in surprising ways. We usually want to know the outcome of our initiatives in advance. We want to always be a success and never appear to make a mistake. We can forget that the Christ we follow appeared to be an abject failure at the end of his life! Every one of his disciples failed to understand God’s will as manifested on the cross. Like Peter, we can say to the Lord, “God forbid this should happen to me!” without realizing how many blessings will ultimately flow from precisely the situation we find ourselves in, even though it may seem to all outward appearances to be a disaster. Jesus, thank you for the times that you permit the opposite of what we think is best. Jesus, help us to always trust in you. Amen.