(Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. However, below's reflection is based upon the weekday
Reading for the Second Thursday of Advent)
The Responsorial Psalm gives the secret of fulfillment: “The Lord is kind and merciful; slow to anger and rich in compassion” (Psalm 145).
There is in all of us a lust for power and achievement. We want to “be like God” (Genesis 3:5) by breaking all resistance to our goals, our will. And anger can energize us for this. But this is not God’s way: “The Lord is… merciful; slow to anger….”
St. Thomas Aquinas said that God gave us the emotion of anger for self-defense — not just against aggressors, but against our own apathy and fear. Anger energizes us to overcome obstacles. But anger and force are two different things. Force and violence are not God’s way.
Fear also drives us to violence. But Isaiah 41: 13-20 gives us the answer to fear: “I am the Lord, your God…. Fear not, I will help you.”
If we refuse to rely on power and force — or to place our trust in any human resources (see Matthew 10: 9-10; Luke 1:34-35) — God promises to help us in such a way “that all may see and know… that the hand of the Lord has done this” — not our power. This builds hope.
It is true that God has chosen to rely on us. We can do nothing without God, and God will do very little without us. He chose to use human beings to save the world, beginning with the Word made flesh in Mary, and continuing through Jesus risen and living in us, his body on earth.
But we have a problem: we don’t feel holy enough to do the work of God. We look at Mary and the great saints, and feel like just walking off the field: we are out of our league.
Matthew 11: 11-15 relates to this. People in Jesus’ day were awed by the austerity of John the Baptizer. Jesus took nothing away from what they saw in John: “History has not known a man born of woman greater than John….” But he added something they did not see: “Yet the least born into the kingdom of God is greater than he.”
The key to greatness is not human success, but surrender to God living and acting within us by grace. Mary’s greatest achievement was to say, “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me….” (Luke 1:38). Mary is the greatest in the kingdom of God because she was “full of grace”; that is, fully surrendered to whatever God wanted to do in her.
The greatest fulfillment is not to achieve goals by force fueled by anger. It is to be surrendered to God. That is the secret of fulfillment.
Initiative: If you seek fulfillment, seek it where it can be found. Surrender to Jesus. Keep saying all day long, especially when you feel discouragement, fear or anger, ““I am the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.”