“Here I am, Lord! I come to do your will.
You do not ask for sacrifice and offerings, but an open ear. You do not ask for holocaust and victim. Instead, here am I. In the scroll of the book it stands written that I should do your will. My God, I delight in your law in the depth of my heart.” Indeed, these words of the psalmist explain to us what it means to do the will of God. Doing God’s will is more than just offering sacrifices, coming for mass every Sunday, or even giving charity to the poor.
Doing God’s will is to offer our body as a living sacrifice to God. This is what the Lord did and this is what St Paul is asking of us. Although the second reading is in the context of sexual promiscuity, it must be understood in a broader sense. The basis for purity in sexual relationship is founded on the fact that the body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Fornication is a sin simply because we sin against our own body, which is not our own. St Paul said, “You are not your own property; you have been bought and paid for. That is why you should use your body for the glory of God.”
Our body, therefore, must be used to give glory to God and for His service. God gives us good health and the ability to work not simply for ourselves, our enjoyment, but so that we can give glory to Him in our service to others. Using our body for the glory of God means that we will not do anything with our body that will bring disrepute to Him. We do not want others to see and despise us for the wrong things that we do. Rather, in all that we say and do, we want to be God’s glory, praise and presence to them.
Regardless of what we do, we must do all things for the greater glory of God. This is the motto of St Ignatius. Indeed, St Ignatius teaches us that it is important for us not just to do the right things or do good works, but to do it for the right motives. The truth is that we can do good work for ulterior motives; money, fame, recognition, approval or drawing attention to ourselves. We might, out of sloth, postpone less glamorous or hard work and responsibilities that we should be doing. St Paul also urges us to use our body for the glory of God. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” (1 Cor 10:31) “I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, so that they may be saved.” (1 Cor 10:33) Indeed, following St Ignatius, let us begin our work with the ultimate end in mind, which is for the greater glory of God. Anything lesser will mean that we seek for lesser goals in life. This, then, is the way to give glory to God in our body as individuals and as His Church.
This is true even for those of us who are sickly or suffering due to old age. Until our sickness, we thought we could do great things for Christ and His Church. But with health failing, there are many things we cannot do. We have to live with many constraints and humble ourselves to depend on people for our needs. Many of us who are elderly do not like this feeling of dependence on others. We are so used to doing things ourselves. But now we feel bad that we have to trouble people. Sometimes our caregivers are not so patient and are irritable. We have to tolerate their moods and occasional harsh words and their impatience at our slowness. Yet, this is the glory of God that we are called to manifest to others through the way we carry our crosses in our illness. When we do not lament or grumble but faithfully and willingly accept God’s will for us, in cheerfulness and patience, we show the love of God even to our caregivers.
Indeed, it is not how many achievements we make at the end of our lives but how we have consecrated our life to God according to the circumstances we are in. Success in life is not measured as in the world, by numbers. It is not the number of trophies we have earned, the number of people we have helped; or the number of talks and inspiring things we have done. Rather, it is how we give ourselves in doing the will of God concretely, according to the talents and opportunities and the constraints that we face. God does not look at our works but our heart.
This is what holiness is all about! Doing His will as Jesus did. This was what all the great saints did as well. St Theresa of the Child Jesus wanted to be a great missionary for Christ but she was sickly and had to remain in the convent. She died at the young age of 24. So too the two seers at our Lady of Fatima. Francisco and Jacinta died at the tender age of 11 and 10 from illness. Not all are called to be St Ignatius or St Francis Xavier who were great missionaries. In the final analysis, it does not matter. It is how we live a life of devotion to God’s will in the situation He calls us.
But to do His will, we must listen to Him. Like Samuel, before we can say, “Here I am, Lord!”, we must first listen. This calls for discernment of the spirit as what St Ignatius also asks of us. The secret is to listen to the Word of God. God speaks to us not because of our rank, position or wisdom in life. He did not call Eli but He called Samuel. So when the Lord calls us, we must say, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” Listening to the Lord is the key in which we do God’s will and find the strength to offer our body for His greater glory.
Indeed, we read, “Samuel grew up and the Lord was with him and let no word of his fall to the ground.” We too must always be grounded in the Word of God so that we will walk the way of truth and not be deceived by our own spirit or the spirits of the world. “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim 3:16f) Again, St Paul exhorts us, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Col 3:16f)
This was the way of the apostles. In today’s gospel, Jesus invited the disciples of John who were seeking the truth to “come and see.” And “so they went and saw where he lived, and stayed with him the rest of that day.” Jesus did not teach them merely by words but by His life. Indeed, that day spent with Jesus left an indelible impression on them. It was such a significant event in the lives of the disciples that the evangelist noted the time. “It was about the tenth hour.” In His very life, Jesus manifested the love and mercy of God. It was not what He said or did but how He lived his life that made them conclude who Jesus was. “Early next morning, Andrew met his brother and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ – which means the Christ – and he took Simon to Jesus.”
Today, if we want to be the glory of God for others, we too must come to Jesus. If we allow ourselves to be loved by Him and be saturated with His presence, then we too will be the presence of God to others. Being with Jesus is the key to ministry and being His apostles. We read that the two disciples could reach out to the others to tell them about Jesus, first to Simon Peter and later to Nathaniel, only because they stayed with Jesus,. The desire to bring others to Jesus presupposes that we have encountered Him deeply. Without this prior encounter and personal discovery of who Jesus is for us, we cannot share with others what Jesus had done for us.
What happens when we meet Jesus? We are given a new identity and a new image. This was true for Simon Peter. “Jesus looked hard at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John; you are to be called Cephas’ – meaning Rock.” In encountering Jesus, we come to realize our true identity and calling in life. Jesus is the One who offers us the fullness of life. Meeting Jesus changes us, our perspective in life, our meaning in life. This transformation from our encounter with Jesus is also seen in the conversion experience of the skeptical Nathaniel. “When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, ‘Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!’ Nathanael replied, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’” (Jn 1:47, 49)
Indeed, when we know Jesus and are baptized into Him, we become members of His body. This is what St Paul says in the second reading. “You know, surely, that your bodies are members making up the body of Christ; anyone who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.” We are no longer just an individual but we are members belonging to Christ. For this reason, as an individual and together as a community, we are the Church. We are called to be the Sacrament of Jesus, to edify Him as an individual and as a community. We too must bring others to Jesus as the apostles did after encountering Him.