Wednesday, August 14, 2013

God Always Has the Last Word

Memorial of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Priest and Martyr

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

By Colleen O'Sullivan

Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, the headland of Pisgah which faces Jericho, and the Lord showed him all the land – Gilead, and as far as Dan, all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea, the Negeb, the circuit of the Jordan with the lowlands at Jericho, city of palms, and as far as Zoar.  The Lord then said to him, “This is the land which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that I would give to their descendants.  I have let you feast your eyes upon it, but you shall not cross over.”  So there, in the land of Moab, Moses, the servant of the Lord, died as the Lord had said, and he was buried in the ravine opposite Beth-peor in the land of Moab, but to this day no one knows the place of his burial.   (Deuteronomy 34:1-6)


Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, All I have and call my own.  You have given all to me.  To you, Lord, I return it.  Everything is yours; do with it what you will.  Give me only your love and your grace, That is enough for me.
(Suscipe, St. Ignatius of Loyola)


This has to have been a bittersweet moment for Moses.  The greater part of his life has been spent leading God’s people to the Promised Land.  Here they are at last, and God permits him only to gaze upon the vista from the mountaintop before his death.  Entry is forbidden to him. (God said this was the consequence of Moses not acknowledging God’s holiness before the people at Meribah –-Numbers 20:8-12.)  A divine “No” is spoken.

What amazes me is Moses’ humility in accepting this.  No begging God to relent.  No spewing forth of disappointment or bitterness.  It’s as though Moses has managed to make the words of the Suscipe prayer his own.  I surrender my will to you, Lord.  You are my God, and I am your servant. Your will, not mine, be done.

I want to say those things and mean them with all my heart, but most days I am far from being able to do so with any shred of integrity.  Some days the desire for the desire is all I have to offer the Lord.  But that is a start.  (For a brief talk on our deepest desires by Paul Campbell, SJ, watch


What keeps me from total surrender of my will to God’s is the illusion that I am in control.  I very conveniently manage to ignore the fact that much in my life is not of my choosing – when and where I was born, what family I am a part of, or how and when I will die.   I’m the queen of making plans, keeping lists, maintaining a calendar, etc., as though that puts me in charge.  I keep forgetting that I am not the lord of my life.  One way or another, though, God always manages to remind me of the proper order of things in the universe.

What is it that keeps you from acknowledging that God is in control?  Pray for the desire to let it go, whatever it is.  God is always listening.

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