Fate and Will
12th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

How we wish we have control over many things. We wish we can control our own impulses. We also wish we can control other people. We wish we can control the natural elements. We wish we have the discipline and the power to turn the tides of the sea and the tides of history. We wish we were as powerful as Jesus, who in this Sunday’s Gospel, calmed the storm (Mk. 4:39).

Notwithstanding our wishes, reality confronts us. We realize that much of life is not under our control. In the first reading, Job realized this, as the Lord addressed him: “Who is this that obscures divine plans with words of ignorance?” (Job 38:2). We are torn between accepting our fate and determining our destiny. One moment, Jesus was sleeping calmly during a storm . He accepted the storm. The next moment, for the sake of His frightened disciples He exercised His power and stilled the waters.

Action starter: Over what situations in your life can you exercise your natural powers as well as invoke God’s supernatural power?

This pattern of acceptance and exercise of power is shown in many instances in Jesus’ own ministry. With Mary’s intervention, He exercised power at the wedding feast in Cana. He turned water into wine. He even intervened in matters of life and death. He raised from death the widow’s son and his own friend, Lazarus. Although He was powerful, our Lord also accepted the chalice of suffering. He accepted death on the cross. In all these, whether to accept events or to turn events around, Jesus’ criterion was the glory of God and doing the Father’s will. He performed signs that the Father may be glorified. Jesus’ standard of judgment is one that St. Paul also admonishes us to follow in the second reading, “Because of this we no longer look on anyone in terms of mere human judgment. (2Cor. 5:16)”

If this is the pattern of Jesus’ own life, so too with our own life. As we become more sensitive to the workings of God in our own life, we see the points in our life when we can accept fate and sleep through the storm, as it were. We also become aware of situations where we stand up and invoking God’s power and harnessing the power already given us, we do something about the storms of life.

A case in point may be a person who just received the news that he has cancer or some other life-threatening disease. He seeks advice and good medical opinion and with prayer and willpower does all that is possible to obtain healing and comfort. He fights the disease. There may come a time though when he accepts and resigns himself to God’s providence. This too is for the glory of God.

Another case in point is when we are confronted with decisions about the limits of scientific progress. What criteria do we apply? Is the criterion of progress for progress’ sake the one to prevail? Where does science admit boundaries? For example, just because we have the technology for cloning animals, should we also clone humans?

Indeed, we humans have reached the point where we can cure so many diseases, lengthen our life spans, improve food technology, and even to some extent cause rain to fall. All this we accomplished because we wanted to make life better for humanity. In the process we glorified God. But there is also time to say, enough is enough. If our exercise of human power no longer serves life and no longer glorifies God, then we learn to desist and to accept.

Let this be our prayer,

“Lord give us the courage to change those things that we can change,
the serenity to accept those things that we cannot change,
and the wisdom to know the difference.”