Focus 11 – March 2007

“Thy will be done…”  Jesus teaches us to pray.  And the first thing he tells us is not to pray like the pagans.  And how do the pagans pray?  They babble on and on.  In doing so they think that they can manipulate God.  Something like a spoiled brat, who holds his breath until he gets his way.  The pagan prayer is simply:  God, do it my way.

But, Jesus says:  thy will be done.  God, do it your way – for your way is the best way.  Your way is the way that leads to everlasting life, to true happiness and joy.  Your way is the way of love.  This why even Jesus in his Agony, in the garden of Gethsemane, prays:  Father, not my will but your will be done.

And, this is exactly how Jesus teaches us to pray – for prayer is not trying to change God’s mind but it is seeking to know God’s mind, and in knowing it, seeking the courage to follow it.  “Thy will be done on earth and it is in heaven”.

We pray, “Hallowed be thy name”.  His name is holy – but we pray for the faith that allows us to recognize his name, the faith to become friends with him – for in that faith which is friendship with God his name is hallowed in our lives.  We pray, “Thy kingdom come”.  If God’s kingdom comes, that means that God rules.  Too often today, we see war and death, we see conflict and hatred – all this comes from sin, not from God’s promise. “Thy kingdom come” is a prayer of hope, a prayer of trust.  God will keep his promises.

Prayer is like trying to bring a boat to dock.  When a boat gets close to the dock or pier, someone throws out a rope – a line, for those of you who know the proper boating language.  The line is thrown out to the dock and tied to a piling.  Then, you pull the line – and in pulling the line, the boat comes up along side the dock.  Pulling the line does not move the dock, it moves the boat.  God’s will is for us to have life, life abundantly.  God’s will is for us to know his love.  Now who needs to change that?  Prayer is not about changing God, or God’s mind – or his will.  It is about changing us – bringing us closer to him, to his will, to his plan for our lives.

What is God’s plan for your life?  The answer is found in Jesus’ words to his disciples:  “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”  (John 13: 34)  Now, to do love, as Jesus did, is the way to true joy and happiness. To give your selves to as a gift to God and to your brothers and sisters, as Jesus did when he died for us on the cross is the way to joy and happiness.  It is not an easy way; but it is the way, God’s way.  As Pope Benedict said last month, in a message to young people for this year’s celebration of World Youth Day on Palm Sunday, “Love is the only force capable of changing the heart of the human person and of all humanity, by making fruitful the relations between men and women, between rich and poor, between cultures and civilizations.”  Love is God’s will and prayer makes love possible.

As juniors, you are already preparing for your future. You will be the class of 2008. You attend Career days, visit college campuses.  Guidance counselors, teachers, parents, all are pressing you to answer the question:  What are your plans?  What do you want to do with your life?  What do you want to be when you grow up?  Well, today, we want you to consider that question from a different perspective.  Instead of asking, what are my plans; what do I want to do; ask instead:  What is God’s plan for my life?  What does he want me to do with my life?

Again, remember those words of Jesus, “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another”.  God is calling you – each of you – to a future of love.  Dare to love as Christ loves.  Loving in this way is like learning to speak a new language well.  You have to learn the grammar.  Grammar might seem to be all about rules and regulations. And to love like Jesus means learning the rules and regulations about self-control, purity of heart and mind, it is about learning how to deny oneself, to respect others, to serve instead of being serve.  But these rules and regulations, give us the freedom to embrace a future of love.  I am sure you seen those ads about Tiger Woods.  He’s not a great golfer because he didn’t pay attention to the rules and regulations of golf – but in learning them and keeping them so well, he has the freedom to be one of the best golfers in the world.  Be a Tiger.  Dare to love.  Just as Tiger Woods can teach us about the game of golf, look at the saints:  they can teach us about how to love – as Jesus loved. Look at Mother Teresa, or at Maximilian Kolbe, or a Father Lopez.  Dare to love.

Perhaps, God has a project of love for your future as a husband or wife, a father or mother.  But, at the same time, be ready to say “yes” if God should call you to follow the path of ministerial priesthood or the consecrated life.  Again, God is calling you – each of you – to a future of love.  That is his will.  To work out the details, to learn how God wishes you to shape that future, to overcome one’s own hesitancy or fears, requires some hard praying – pulling on those lines that will bring us with our own wills, our own little plans and ideas, to the dock.  That’s what we are asking you to do here at Focus 11.

“Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”, that Jesus’ way.  The pagans pray, God do it my way. Let’s pray with Jesus: God, in our lives, may we do it your way.