Last week I deviated from my prepared text to speak about how bad single mindedness is in the Church. Not single-mindedness in the sense that we all work together for the same purpose, but single-mindedness in that we only want what we want no matter the consequences. Most of the problems we have in the world today are due to this one reason. Doing the will of God is one of the hardest parts of being a Christian. Loving everyone, especially those who hate us, I think is at the top of the list of hard things, but doing the will of God comes in at a close second.
It is very natural for us to want to do what we want to do. We want to go here, so we go, we want to go there, so we go. But following the will of God is difficult and demanding. Following the will of God means to put a portion of ourselves on the sidelines and for some that is almost impossible.
This past Thursday we celebrated one of the great feasts in our Church, the Dormition of the Theotokos. Church Tradition tells us that as her time of death was approaching, Jesus sent an Angel to His Mother to tell her that her time was at hand. She went to the Mount of Olives to pray and give thanks to God. She returned home to take care of the things that needed to be done prior to her death.
Also at this time, clouds caught up the Apostles from the ends of the earth and brought them to the side of the Theotokos where she told them all that was about to happen. They were filled with much grief at hearing of her pending death, she consoled them with motherly love and affection then she raised her hands to God and prayed for the peace of the world, blessed each of the Apostles, reclined on her couch and gave up her spirit.
With great care and love, they sang hymns and carried her body to the place of her burial. The an interesting thing happened and is depicted in the Icon of this feast. A man, filled with malice, reached up to touch the body of the Theotokos and immediately his hands were struck from his body by an invisible blow. Filled with much grief for what had happened, he repented and his hands were miraculously reattached to his body.
The buried her body in the place set aside for her and sang many hymns at her grave. On the third day after her burial they were eating together and celebrating the Liturgy, when they lifted the bread to be blessed, the Theotokos appeared to them saying rejoice, and they knew that her body had been translated to heaven as a witness to the resurrection of the body that we all will undergo in the last days. She was not raised from the dead as her Son and our Lord was, she was raised to glory, as we all will be, when Christ comes again.
But the story of the Theotokos begins years before these events when her parents Joachim and Anna pray for a child and that they will dedicate this child to God. They are blessed with conception and they have a daughter and call her Mary. They bring her to the temple as an offering to God and it is there that she is raised. She is betrothed to Joseph and is chosen, above all others, to be the mother of God.
The Angel of the Lord appears to her and tells her what is to happen; she only asks one question, “how is this possible for I know not man.” The Angel tells her that all things are possible with God and at that moment she conceives by the Holy Spirit and will bring forth a Son.
But it all began with Mary saying yes, she threw off all of her desires in this world, faced almost certain shame for being pregnant without being married, but she still said yes to God. But she really had no other choice, she had been raised in the will of God and to her there is no other choice but to say yes when God asks.
Mary lived her life in absolute concert with the will of God. She was human just like you and I, but she had total devotion to God and was willing to risk it all to walk in that will. She had no idea what was coming or what any of this meant. She did not possess knowledge of future events or any special knowledge of what all of this meant, she approached faith in a very simple, uncomplicated way, whatever God asks of me I will do. She had absolute faith and absolute trust in God that God would not ask her to do something that she could not do, remember the words of the Angel, “With God, all things are possible.”
This is the faith that we are to have, we are to have the simple faith and the simple trust that God will have our backs and we need to live out that faith to our best ability. God is calling each of us to walk the road that He has chosen for each of us. Our daily prayer should simply be the words of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane prior to his arrest and eventual death, “not my will but yours.” We should pray each and every day that we walk in the light of God and in His will not our will, or I should say that if we are living the life that we should live our will, will be God’s will and if that is the case then all will be well.
So let us approach our faith with the innocence of the Theotokos and simply say, not my will your will and walk in the way of God.