The approaching of that “hour” was not greeted by Jesus with any element of joyful exuberance but rather willful determination: “I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” (John 12:27)
There was no doubt in Jesus’ mind that the “hour” of His Passion and Death was the defining moment toward which His entire mission and purpose was directed. The clarity of His mission gave direction to the whole of His life. He was always very clear: “I have come to do the will of Him who sent me!” (cf. John 5:30) The faithful following of His Father’s will, leading as it did to the hill of Calvary, was not necessarily cheerful and it was certainly not easy.
Beginning on Sunday, Palm Sunday, we are all invited to walk with Jesus in this “hour” and perhaps by doing so discovering for ourselves that thing about which we can ultimately say: “But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.”
Undoubtedly every one of us has experienced many such “hours” over the course of the years. For those who are married the day of marriage looks very much like “that for which I have been born.” For priests, the day of ordination stands out quite preeminently. For those suffering with cancer, perhaps the day of diagnosis could be viewed as the day when one’s “hour” had come.
Then there are the days related to these primary days which raise the question again, “Was it for this that I have been sent?” The day of the birth of a child is a day on which parents might rightly ask, “Was it for this purpose that I have come to this hour?” A priest hearing a particularly distraught confession spanning many years and then offering the grace of healing and forgiveness might reflect, “Was it for this moment that I have become a priest?”
In a far different way, a person, perhaps working for decades to discover some medical breakthrough, might upon making that breakthrough proclaim, Eureka, this gives meaning to my existence. Such a discovery, however, unless it is in accord with God’s will, may seem to give meaning and significance to life but it does not “give life” in the same way that Jesus comes to “give life.”
No one of us will ever be able to declare definitively, at any moment in life, that the moment being considered is the ideal summation of the whole meaning of our entire lives. Yet, this is what Jesus declares when looking to the days we are now preparing to remember and celebrate, the days of His Passion, Death and, of course, Resurrection. This clarity on the part of Jesus helped assure that every moment of His life was likewise consistent with the will of His Father and consistent with the “purpose for which He came.” While we may not have a very high degree of security in trying to determine that precise moment which adequately defines or epitomizes the whole meaning of our lives, we can, nonetheless, arrive at a degree of peaceful security that we are living in a way consistent with that meaning. Like Jesus we are to strive to live a life consistent with “the will of the Father.” “I have come to do the will of Him who sent me.”
It may seem a bit odd to ask, “Was it God’s will that I travel to Portland this weekend?” I would like to believe that there was nothing inconsistent with God’s will for me to have done so. Was it God’s will the I meet with the various folks with whom I had the opportunity to meet? Again I would like to believe that there was nothing inconsistent with God’s will for me to have done so. Beyond that I would like to be able to affirm that my having gone to Portland and having met with various folks was, in fact, perfectly consistent with God’s will for me.
I would say the same thing about my travel to Baker City and the Cathedral for the celebration of the Chrism Mass. While it is my responsibility to set the precise day, time and location the Church clearly instructs Bishops about the duty to celebrate the Mass of the Chrism and sets the precise ritual to be followed in doing so. Thus my celebrating of the Mass of Chrism fulfills the mandate of the Church which is, for me in faith, a fulfillment of God’s will in this matter. I would like to believe that it is also “God’s will” that a significant number of the faithful of the Diocese likewise travel to the Cathedral to participate in this annual blessing of Sacramental Oils but that may be an unjust expansion of my understanding of God’s will. I could say, with a high degree of certainty, that traveling to the Cathedral to participate in the Mass of Chrism would not seem to be inconsistent with the will of God.
There are some who are very reluctant to equate the teaching of the Church with the “will of God.” Yet, for myself, I find it very difficult to assert that God’s will for me in a particular matter, and perhaps even in a very small matter, is directly opposed to the manifestation of “His will” through the Church. Even when, or perhaps especially when the “will of God” as expressed by the Magisterial Church seems to run contrary to what I personally feel or desire I must strive to submit my own will and desire to that manifest will of God. When the teachings of the Church bump up against my own will and my own desires then what am I to say: ‘Father, save me from this hour’ or ‘Father, this teaching is unacceptable’ or ‘Father, you are simply wrong’?
As a part of our Easter celebration we focus on the Creed in a slightly different form. We take up that creedal dialogue connected with Baptism and answer a personal, ‘I do’, to each tenet of our Creed. To the question: “Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the Resurrection of the body and life everlasting?” we answer, “I do.”
Included in that answer, included in our weekly Profession of Faith is a commitment to accept the teachings of the Church as a part of the manifest will of God for us.