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Breaking With Our Will

Annuciation of the Lord 

First Reading: Isaiah 7:10-14; 8:10

The LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying:
Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God;
let it be deep as the nether world, or high as the sky!
But Ahaz answered,
“I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!”
Then Isaiah said:
Listen, O house of David!
Is it not enough for you to weary people,
must you also weary my God?
Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign:
the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son,
and shall name him Emmanuel,
which means “God is with us!”

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 40:7-8A, 8B-9, 10, 11

R. (8a and 9a) Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
Sacrifice or oblation you wished not,
but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Holocausts or sin-offerings you sought not;
then said I, “Behold I come.”
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
“In the written scroll it is prescribed for me,
To do your will, O my God, is my delight,
and your law is within my heart!”
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
Your justice I kept not hid within my heart;
your faithfulness and your salvation I have spoken of;
I have made no secret of your kindness and your truth
in the vast assembly.
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

Second Reading: Hebrews 10:4-10

Brothers and sisters:
It is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats
take away sins.
For this reason, when Christ came into the world, he said:

“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
in holocausts 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 nor delighted in.”
These are 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.

Gospel: Luke 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.

NAB

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I still remember the drive home from work. I was pregnant with our third child, and Army culture did not look kindly upon us “pregnant females.” My husband and I wanted to be open to God’s will, but here I was again: agonizing over what my unit would think, what they would say, how I’d be treated. God’s will in all of this was not easy to see. Turning the car into my neighborhood, I told Him so in no uncertain terms.

Jesus showed me His mother in response: unwed and alone, scorned by everyone around her. And in the time it took to reach my house, her fiat, her “yes” to God’s will pierced my consciousness and wiggled its way into my heart. I took a deep breath, thought of the tiny heartbeat within me, and said, “Okay. If this is Your will, I will say yes, too.” Though the fear didn’t disappear, my heart opened to the possibilities—to the plans and life and love ahead of us. As I celebrated my birthday that night, the joy of my own tiny fiat rang through my heart.

By the next evening, the baby was gone.

I could not foresee that we would lose this baby. But God did. In the end, all He’d wanted was my “yes.” Yet in helping me say yes to His will, I was given the most valuable birthday gift of all: a single day of joy with our baby while there was still time.

I’d (reluctantly) handed over my will despite my fears. Just like our Blessed Mother with her fiat. Just like Jesus in His agony in the garden. And out of the human disgrace Mary suffered she gained a far greater grace—God’s favor. Her God-son. Everlasting joy. And out of Jesus’s selfless suffering, He gained the salvation of all humanity.

As we wrestle with our fears and God’s directive to break with our own wills, we would do well to remember exactly that:

God does not—cannot—will evil. God wills good out of evil.

We’re constantly inundated with so many conflicting expectations and judgements and desires that shape our will: Still single? Shouldn’t you follow your career over marriage? You’re pregnant again? Where’s that big Catholic family we thought you’d have? You’re not going back to work?

And on it goes.

The world is oversaturated with misguided human will, but remember: there is only one true will of God for each of us. And whenever we break with our own inflexible will, God conforms us more closely to the best path and plan for our soul—His.

No one, but no one, loves us or wills the best for us more than our God.

Today, let’s give our will over to Him as completely as possible.

photo by Corynne Olivia

Megan Hjelmstad is a wife, mom, writer and sometimes soldier whose real passion is equal parts faith and chocolate. You can find out more about her here.

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