‘His Will Be Done’

Being Open to God’s Plan

On Sept. 8, Bishop Raica celebrated Mass at St. Stephen the Martyr Catholic Chapel in Birmingham followed by dinner with the students. The complete text of his homily follows herein.

My friends, it sure is good to be here with you tonight as we gather to honor the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Thank you, Father Bryan Jerabek, for your invitation to come today to meet up with the collegians throughout the Birmingham area served by St. Stephen’s Campus Ministry! 

During lunch today I was listening to the BBC expressing deep concern about Queen Elizabeth’s health. Then, they came out with the announcement that all were dreading – the Queen died peacefully in Balmoral with her family around her. Curious isn’t it, the death of the Queen occurs on the day we commemorate the birth of Mary, the Queen of Heaven and earth. Perhaps, the Lord wanted this providential day. History will judge Queen Elizabeth’s long reign. However, our Blessed Mother, the Queen of Heaven and earth doesn’t not end. It did have a beginning, for in the very mind of God as He contemplated the salvation of the world. And then, within our world, God made plans for the birth of this unique vessel through which our Savior would be born. Yes, nine months previously, on Dec. 8, the Church commemorates Mary’s conception, in her mother, whom we have come to know as Anne. Her mission was so unique, so special, that already from the very beginning she experienced the effects of a salvific grace because of the presence of the savior within her. From the first moment of her life, we can affirm that she was a perpetual “yes” to the plan of God, a grace that was hinted at in the writings of the prophets and other related Scriptural passages. She was deigned to be especially chosen for a unique mission of bringing forth Jesus, the One Who saves, into the world so we could meet the face of God.

Throughout her life, it was her “yes” that continues to inspire many today to listen to God’s word and respond to it generously – with a “who knows what’s in store” now! Oftentimes, there are surprises that happen - we look up to our mother, and she, in turn, looks to her Son! Everything in her life points to Jesus, for she is humbly the “handmaid of the Lord.”

The collegiate years are some of the most significant formative years you will ever have. They won’t be the only ones. Only now these years lay a solid foundation for the future. There is the growth in knowledge, especially in your majors, which form your minds to reason and make critical judgements about events and decisions before you. There is the growth of the body – a time to fine tune its physical characteristics in order to prepare and maximize this unique tent through which my “I” and personality reside. Through it I make myself known and interact with others. There is the growth of the soul to grapple with the deep questions of life that are especially articulated so eloquently in literature, the arts, music, philosophy, science, and sports.  Those questions are shaped by what magnetizes me and which I am attracted to.

Perhaps the best way I like to think about it might be like this: God has a dream for each of us – just as He did for a Mary who would be destined to become the Mother of Jesus. God also has a dream for you and for me.

What is this dream? In what does it consist? It intersects with the deep longings and aches of the heart – for those transcendentals described by truth, beauty, justice, and happiness or blessedness. Most often, it doesn’t happen through reason but through an encounter – frequently unexpected. There we grapple with the unknown – an urge to a future, but one that requires me to step out into the deep. We don’t know where it will end up.  

I’m sure the others here can offer their own testimony. I had planned to become a math teacher – that was my major at university. I like the prospect of teaching. Mom was a teacher. It seemed reasonable and rational. Then, music came into my life in a strong way. That gave way to the pursuit of a vocation. It was going out into the deep. It was a risk. It was a hankering in my heart to pursue something different – something more. I never dreamed back 40 years ago that I’d ever end up here on the 8th of September 2022. My plans were different, but they weren’t God’s plans. No, it is as though the Lord were saying - and I think about this often – “I want you to meet some new friends of mine.” What a gift this has been for me!  

To give it some context: God has a plan for you. We might say: God has a dream for you to be something unique, something special. Blessed Carlo Acutis, who died at about 15 years of age in 2006 because of complications of leukemia, offered this reflection about life: “All of us are born original, but many end up dying as photocopies.”  

What is the originality of God’s plan in you? In the birth of Mary, we can see the fundamental originality play out in her life. She always said “yes” to God’s plan. My “yes” is often complicated with “but” or “Lord, not that” or “Lord, I really want to do this – I think my plan is better than Yours.” No, we need to pray for the grace to say “yes” as Mary did from the first moment of her life. It is for this reason that she is the one the Church verifies is in Heaven reigning with Christ as Queen.  

May our plans coincide more and more with God’s plan so that “His will be done” and “His Kingdom is established” everywhere.