AUGUST 30 – 22nd SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
“DISCERNING THE WILL OF GOD”
by Fr. Walt Wainwright
A number of years ago I bought a book, no big deal there; I can’t begin to count the number of books I’ve bought in my lifetime. This book is entitled “JESUS…A PILGRIMAGE” by Father James Martin SJ. This book has found a very special place, not only on my book shelf but in my frequent reading of the gospels and Father Martin’s account of a pilgrimage he and a friend of his made a number of years ago following in the footpath of much of Jesus’ journey during His public ministry.
This book also had such a profound effect on me that I bought a few extra copies and gave them to special friends as gifts and loaned out my copy to a number of people, in particular a few who were planning a trip to the Holy land and I knew this pilgrimage book would be a great help to them. And it proved to be so.
I have subtitled today’s column “Discerning the will of God” and there is a direct connection with that call from St. Paul to all of us and making the journey of following the path of Jesus as Fr. Martin gives it to us in his book. As my years have advanced and my age spoken new messages to me I have found that reading the gospels and allowing myself to slowly journey through the events and words of Jesus, perhaps as he may had made His public ministry to discover more clearly what the Lord is saying to me, helping me, even in my advanced years, to discern how I should respond to what He wants me to know and understand in my life.
I think it’s very possible that many of us, especially in the past several months when our minds have been filled with a never ending barrage of information about the corona virus, its dangers its spread and how it has changed the lives of so many people, how all of this has affected and effected our lives. I hope it has turned us more and more to the Lord, to prayer, to trust in the power of His grace, and to an acceptance of His will, even though we may not know what our lives will be like six months from now or a year from now.
One of the great blessings I have received from the Lord is simply to place the rest of my life on this earth in His hands. I try to follow what I read in the gospels for each day, allowing myself to virtually make the journey as Jesus did. Fr. Martin’s book helps me a great deal in doing that. He not only relates some of the places and events of Jesus ministry but he opens them up and invites the reader to make the journey even from our living room or chapel or church, or even resting on a summer’s day outside in the shade.
One of my reasons for writing about this today is simply because there is so much going on in our world that it seems very much out of kilter and we know that none of us has all the answers. But we do have this one great powerful grace. As one song put it a long time ago, “Place your hands in the hands of the Master” (at least that’s how I recall it). The rest of the lines from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans goes this way: “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2).
I know it’s hard to believe we’re at the end of August already. Well, I guess we just have to take one day at a time, sweet Jesus!