January 16, 2011 - Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

We have just been singing, “Here I am Lord; I come to do your will.”  The psalmist is speaking to God.  When we speak to God, it is never to inform him; it is always to remind ourselves.  So when we sing, “Here I am Lord; I come to do your will” we are reminding ourselves of what our relationship with God is. 

“Here I am Lord.”  God knows where we are.  We need the reminder.  Here we are on earth, in the exact situation that our current time and place finds us.  We could imagine a thousand people, each in their own unique situation, calling out, “Here I am Lord.”  A person in the depths of grief can say, “Here I am Lord.”  A person on top of Mount Everest can shout, “Here I am Lord.”  A person made weak by illness can whisper, “Here I am Lord.”  A person caught in addiction with no visible way out can call out, “Here I am Lord.”

God knows where we are.  Not just our location but every fact about us, even what we ourselves do not know.  This phrase, “Here I am Lord” is a reminder that no matter where we are, we can call out to God.  There is no one in the world, no matter their situation, no matter their struggles, no matter their triumphs, who cannot stop and say, “Here I am Lord.” 

We should attain the habit of this prayer.  Ten times a day we should stop and turn to the Lord and say, “Here I am Lord.”  This part of the prayer is all about the present.  The past does not matter: how I got here, whose fault or success it was, is beside the point.  I am here, and here is not too far away to speak to the Lord, so “Here I am Lord.”  

The past matters only inasmuch as it has created the situation we are in.  What we have done and what we have suffered has put us here today.  Here.  Exactly where each one of us is.  Our here and now includes certain responsibilities, certain commitments, certain disabilities, certain liabilities.  God knows that.  He knows exactly where we are.  We are the ones who might lie to ourselves.  So we stop and say, “Here I am Lord.”  Yet this was only half of the prayer that we sang.  “Here I am Lord,” but now what?  “I come to do your will.”  This is to say that, no matter where we are, we can choose to do what is right. 

A young woman is pregnant.  Unmarried.  How did this happen?  Does it really matter?  For some things it does.  Who is the father?  Will he take responsibility?  But, for the fact of the pregnancy itself, the past does not matter.  Whether she has made mistakes, whether she is a victim, or if she is our Blessed Mother, pregnant with our Lord, the truth is the same.  Each can stand in their situation and say, “Here I am Lord; I come to do your will.”

Abortion is a lie.  Some people think that the morality of abortion depends on how the woman got pregnant.  If a woman is pregnant, and it is unfair, then she can have an abortion.  But abortion cannot change reality.  This is the lie.  Abortion supporters claim it can.  If a mother kills her child she is still the mother of that child.  Abortion cannot make a mother not a mother.

This example is only one of many.  We all are, to some extent, unhappy with our here and now.  No one is living in paradise.  So many lies reach out and claim that they can deal with our situation.  In this culture of death, many of these solutions (Abortion, Suicide, Euthanasia, Terrorism) involve death, but death cannot be a solution.

We stand right here, each of us, in our own place.  We see signposts in every direction.  Those that point to death sometimes seem like easy roads out.  They never lead to a good place.  The waters are rising and death seems like the escape we need, but it only leads deeper.  The sign post that points to God’s will is the only way to high ground.

Sometimes God’s will seems to be an impassible route.  Sometimes God’s will seems like a highway for other people, but I cannot take it.  There is always an on-ramp to God’s will.  No matter where we are.  We always have complete freedom to begin to do God’s will. 

The only toll, the only charge, is that we have to give up our will.  If we today give up every one of our plans for life, if we today give up every expectation, every anticipation, every ambition, every entitlement, every sense of our fair share, it is possible to do God’s will, to be completely happy.  How many people are prevented from following God because of a daydream!  How many times must we remind ourselves?  God loves us.  He knows what is best for us.  Therefore, his plan is specially designed to get us what is best for us.  What more do you want?

Just as Israel had to give up the idea of being the only nation favored by God, just as Paul had to give up a promising career as a Pharisee to become an apostle (and what is an apostle but a wandering beggar?  It seems impressive now, because of where God’s will took him.  At the time it was about as low as a person could go.), just as John the Baptist had to give up the following he could have had as he pointed the way to Jesus, so too must we all give up whatever is tying us down here. 

And when we give it up, and travel down the way of God’s will, and arrive at heaven, if we should, by some chance turn and look at that precious dream that lies cast aside on the road, we will laugh at ourselves for ever thinking it of any value at all in comparison to God’s love and what he has prepared for us.