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Discerning God’s Will Everyday

Memorial of Saint Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

First Reading: Hebrews 10:1-10

Brothers and sisters:
Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come,
and not the very image of them, it can never make perfect
those who come to worship by the same sacrifices
that they offer continually each year.
Otherwise, would not the sacrifices have ceased to be offered,
since the worshipers, once cleansed, would no longer
have had any consciousness of sins?
But in those sacrifices there is only a yearly remembrance of sins,
for it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats
take away sins.
For this reason, when he came into the world, he said:

Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
in burnt offerings 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,
burnt offerings 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.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 40:2 AND 4AB, 7-8A, 10, 11

R. (8a and 9a) Here am I Lord; I come to do your will.
I have waited, waited for the LORD,
and he stooped toward me.
And he put a new song into my mouth,
a hymn to our God.
R. Here am I Lord; I come to do your will.
Sacrifice or oblation you wished not,
but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Burnt offerings or sin-offerings you sought not;
then said I, “Behold I come.”
R. Here am I 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 am I 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 am I Lord; I come to do your will.

Gospel: Mark 3:31-35

The mother of Jesus and his brothers arrived at the house.
Standing outside, they sent word to Jesus and called him.
A crowd seated around him told him,
“Your mother and your brothers and your sisters
are outside asking for you.”
But he said to them in reply,
“Who are my mother and my brothers?”
And looking around at those seated in the circle he said,
“Here are my mother and my brothers.
For whoever does the will of God
is my brother and sister and mother.”

NAB

I spent the entire semester I was abroad in Europe during college trying to surrender my will to God’s will about a particular man in my life. He very clearly liked, almost loved, me, but he was conflicted about his vocation. I tried desperately to not interfere in his discernment, but also to accept God’s will, come what may. The hardest thing for me was figuring out for what exactly I should be praying for this dear man. I wanted him to choose God’s will for his life, but I also felt that my own destiny was already tied up in this man’s destiny. In my very depths I felt that we were meant to be with each other, but I had to wait for God’s will to be made clear to him. The only prayer I could pray with any peace was this: for this man to discern God’s will for him. That letting go and letting God was one of the hardest things I have done in my life.

God’s will for us is not always the easiest thing to discern, but it is pretty clear in the Scriptures that our whole point and purpose is to figure out His will and to follow it. Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel, “[W]hoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” Doing God’s will is how we participate in the Christian life. He wants us to discern His will in every action of our life. Does that sound too hard? Let’s break it down.

Start with daily life. It is certainly God’s will that I get out of bed each morning; it is also His will that I eat breakfast, drink coffee, and dress in something appropriate for my tasks that day. And even before I begin He asks me to pause for a moment to make a morning offering. Then I am on to my daily duties, which for me involve the care and education of my children with some housekeeping in between. Sometimes those duties can seem like drudgery. So one of the things to discern is: if this life is God’s will for me, how can I find more joy in my daily existence? I am learning that His will for me is to be a more active parent, one who is willing to set aside my email, writing, or book to look into their faces, bring them back to their quiet time or help them off the potty even when they can do it themselves. The more care I put into loving them in the small mundane things, the happier our family is. That is God’s will for me in my daily life.

Then there are the big decisions, such as the vocation story I gave an account of above. It took me months of prayer to get to that point. It took me years of discernment to feel a call to one particular man. It took him what seemed like forever, but in reality was only half of a year, to discover his call to discern marriage to me. But when we discovered God’s will for us, it was, and has been, so beautiful. Yet, these major decisions are only the highlights of a life which discerns God’s will on a daily basis. For it is only with daily submission to God’s will that we can discern His greater will for us.

What is God calling you to today? How can you sanctify your daily routine to be more in accord with God’s will? How has He blessed you in your major life decisions? Are you still waiting for Him to show you something. Pray today’s Psalm again, and open yourself up entirely to God’s will in trust and love.

Susanna Spencer once studied theology and philosophy, but now happily cares for her three adorable little girls, new baby boy, and her dear husband in Saint Paul. She loves beautiful liturgies, cooking delicious meals, baking amazing sweets, reading good books, raising her children, casually following baseball, and talking to her philosopher husband. You can find out more about her here.

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