“God’s will, will not take you where His grace won’t sustain you!” This is the great message I got from New Year’s Mass.
On New Year’s Day, we were celebrating the Blessed Virgin Mary, as the Mother of God. Such a great title that one! As a Catholic, one of the biggest misconceptions I find people have about Mary, is that we worship her. Truth is, we revere her for the great role she played, in her immaculate conception of our Lord Jesus, and the untold suffering she went through as a mother, during the Passion of Christ.
This moment is accurately captured in the Pieta, a great chef-d’oeuvre by Michelangelo, which is a depiction of the Virgin Mary holding the dead body of her son Jesus. According to the Catholic Catechism, she was born without sin because God had already picked her to be the mother of His Son Jesus.
Even when we recite the proverbial ‘Hail Mary’, we say, “Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with you. Blessed are you amongst all women…” If you think about it, it is such an honour to be the Mother of God. However, the truth is, this title came with unmitigated hardship.
She wasn’t just relaxing at home, oblivious to everything, when her son was being crucified on the cross. On the contrary, she walked the entire journey with Him, and watched as He carried the heavy cross, and as He was mercilessly whipped and jeered by the crowds of people.
She watched as He was stripped naked and nailed to the cross; watched when He was stabbed with a spear on His side and disdainfully bedecked with a crown of thorns… she watched as He called out in pain, asking God why He had forsaken Him (Matthew 27: 46).
It must have been a harrowing experience for a mother to see her beloved son go through so much pain, and not be in a position to do anything about it, because that was His destiny. In light of this, it’s only right that she is venerated as the Mother of God, and the Queen of Heaven. She intercedes for us, given her close relationship with our Lord Jesus.
Mother Mary’s pain, is what the Priest focused on as he gave his homily on New Year’s Day. Other than the dazzling display of fireworks as the cross strikes midnight on December 31st, the other thing synonymous with New Year celebrations are the messages of hope shared. We all hope for better days, for God’s favour to be upon us.
However, there is the age old question… While we are so ready to receive the blessings, are we ready to accept God’s will in our lives? Mary acquired the title ‘Mother of God’, the instant she accepted God’s will in her life, ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done to me according to Thy word”.
The priest was saying, sometimes God will make you a refugee in another country, before His favour is made manifest. Case in point was how Mary and Joseph had to flee with their son Jesus to Egypt, when they found out King Herod wanted to kill the child. For someone like Joseph, the son of Jacob, he was thrown in a pit by his brothers and sold off as a slave in Egypt (Genesis 37:2), before being promoted to administrator. That was the equivalent of a prime minister.
The priest was saying, “You pray for a job, and when you don’t get it you stop praying, and you stop going to church because you feel God has failed you. Little do you know, God saw your future and realised that job was going to kill you. You meet a person you like and you decide that’s the person you want to marry. But when you don’t get that person you stop praying and stop going to church. Again, God protected you from that person because He knew that person would kill you”.
Praying for God’s favour means trusting in Him, and accepting His will. He only has good intentions for us, but as it is in life, those blessings are usually preceded by difficulties and misery. Jesus, His own Son suffered. While He was praying at the garden of Gethsemane, He asked God the Father to take away the cup of suffering from Him… yet, He still asked for God’s will to be done (Luke 22: 42).
What this shows us is that sometimes, God’s blessings are preceded by hardship. Nonetheless, what we should focus on are the benefits; the triumph. What we need to remind ourselves is that God’s will, will not take us, where His grace is not sufficient; where His grace won’t sustain us (Psalms 91).
Therefore, as we pray and hope for a Happy and Prosperous New Year, we need to remember that if we want God’s favour we must be ready to submit ourselves to His will. It may not always be pleasant, but once we trust in Him, we will eventually rip the beautiful benefits like Mary, Jesus and Joseph above. Thus, accepting God’s will in our lives is the price we have to pay in exchange for His abundant favour.