Allowing God to do his work
I have a small stone plaque, a gift from my mom, nestled next to the coffee maker on our kitchen counter that reads: "Good morning! This is God. I will be handling all your problems today. So have a good day. I love you." It is a sweet morning reminder of my mom and of God’s loving promise to us.
During a recent Mass at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Omaha, Father Pat McCaslin spoke of this promise as he reflected on Luke’s gospel when Jesus introduces what we know as "The Lord’s Prayer" and teaches his disciples how to pray. Father McCaslin lighted upon the phrase "Thy Kingdom come…" and described the moment when he learned how to pray.
Father McCaslin was the coordinator of a retreat for deacons, and the featured speaker was unexpectedly unable to attend. This busy young pastor had no choice but to fill in, yet he had little time to prepare except for a few minutes throughout the morning in between celebrating that Sunday’s Masses. During each of these breaks, he prayed to God for the right words to offer the deacons, but the words did not come.
Finally, during the last few moments he had before the retreatants arrived, he prayed again. This time he heard God say to him, "If you want my help, get out of the way." Father McCaslin did and was astonished by the inspired words he spoke during the retreat. He learned that day the magnificence of letting go of his own agenda and instead praying for God’s Kingdom to come and not, as he said, "Pat’s Kingdom."
If we allow God to work through us, we will be, do, experience more than we can ever imagine. Father Pat never imagined such profound words would come from him, words he learned greatly affected his audience that day.
While I listened to this story, I knew exactly what he was talking about. For as much as I strive to give my days, desires, priorities and concerns to God, I often find myself taking them back so I can stay in control. No wonder I can feel overwhelmed, tired, unsure. I am essentially living two lives, the one God wants for me and the one I keep trying to drive. I am keeping one foot in each reality.
I often think about a conversation with local civil rights champion Tommie Wilson. She was about to make a presentation to a large group, and I asked her if she ever gets nervous. Her quick response was something along these lines: "Of course not; I have already given my day to the Lord. He has it handled."
That is faith. That is letting the Lord work through you. That is living in his kingdom … not Pat’s, not Tommie’s, not mine or ours.
St. Paul reminds us in this weekend’s second reading that "in every place, man should pray." May we pray "to get out of the way" so we can instead cooperate in God’s vision for us and know the awe-inspiring glory of his kingdom here on earth.
Shannan Brommer is director of the archdiocesan Office of Stewardship and Development. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.