Every Sunday at Mass, during the Our Father we all say together ‘Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’ But do we really mean it? Sometimes we want with all our heart and soul for God’s will to be done – and other times we don’t. We’d rather things go the way we want them to. Often it’s the little, hidden moments of life that are the hardest times to say to God ‘Thy will be done.’
Recently on St. Joseph’s Workshop, Fr. Matthew Spencer, OSJ reflected on how we can look to the Blessed Mother as a model of how to say yes to God in both the big and little moments of our lives. Fr. Matthew said:
“What was Mary saying yes to? She was saying yes to be the mother of Jesus. She was saying yes to the sufferings that were going to come along with that, even though she may not have realized in that moment all of the particulars or the specifics of those sufferings. But, in fact, it was also a yes to the whole rest of her vocation.
It was, on the one hand, saying yes to the uncertainty of not knowing exactly where her vocation was going to take her. That is a difficult thing for me to think about. And it may be difficult for you to think about.
You have probably prayed to God before, as I have done many times, ‘Lord, if you just tell me what to do, I’ll do it. If you just make it really clear to me, give me a little apparition – it doesn’t have to be a big one, just a little one – then I will know what to do and I will do Your will.’ That’s often the kind of relationship I want. If only I could know for sure what He wanted from me.
But what did Mary say yes to? She said yes, in part, to the uncertainty that was about to come. It’s interesting that Mary didn’t necessarily know all that was going to be demanded of her from that moment of her saying yes. It wasn’t like she had a vision of everything that was going to unfold. Like ‘Oh, by the way, Jesus is going to be crucified and you’re going to be at the foot of the Cross while your beloved Son dies.’
I’m sure she must have had some indication of what that was going to be, but there was an unknown to all of that. There was an uncertainty, and she was not sure what her yes would mean. But guess what? She did it anyway.
And why could she do it? Because God is love. And God’s will is the best thing. If God is asking you to do something, then that is the best thing that you could do, right? I think we look at it and say, ‘If God’s asking me to do this, I gotta weigh the pros and cons.’ And it does take discernment, you do have to figure out if God actually wants this from you. That’s the tricky part. But then when we know, why is it that we still resist?
The lesson we learn from our Blessed Mother is that ‘Yes’ leads to many other yeses. Pope Francis says it’s a long list of moments of obedience, leading up to her obedience at the Cross. It wasn’t just her Fiat at the Annunciation, but it was her yes after that. It was her yes to go to Bethlehem, even with all those circumstances; it was her yes to go with Joseph to Egypt to avoid persecution and the risk of murder for her Son. Every moment, Mary was being obedient and was saying yes to God, all the way up to the Cross.
This is encouraging to me, because I look at my life and think there were some moments that took some serious yeses, some serious fiats, but that wasn’t the end of that yes. The yes has to continue on in all those little moments that follow, in the little things that succeed the big yes.
It’s to say, ‘I did say yes all those years back to my husband, and so I’m going to say yes again now.’ I did say, ‘OK Lord, I will do your will,’ way back when I became Catholic, when I received my 1st Communion, when I was Confirmed, when I went through all these important moments of grace – and I’m going to continue that yes, every moment of my life.
Unfortunately, there’s this disordered movement in our hearts and in our minds to say no. To hold on to our own will. To betray those yeses. … But in those times when we feel tempted to betray our yes, when we feel tempted to say no to God, we can look to our Blessed Mother and her yes.
We can ask, ‘Am I actually saying yes to Jesus? Am I actually saying yes to what is being asked of me in my vocation?’ If I am, then praise God. And if I’m not, maybe now is the time to start saying yes. Maybe now is the time to start cooperating in the little things, as well as in the big things. In those daily opportunities of saying yes, as well as in those life-changing moments of acknowledging God’s grace. Let us always and at every moment say yes to God’s holy will.”
Listen to the full reflection from Fr. Matthew below: