Believing and trusting in God's plan for us Print
Bishop Morlino's Column
Written by Bishop Robert C. Morlino   
Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014 -- 12:00 AM
This column is the bishop’s communication with the faithful of the Diocese of Madison. Any wider circulation reaches beyond the intention of the bishop.

Dear Friends,

The timing of this column falls into one of those awkward periods that comes with the schedule of our weekly publication.

As I write, we are still at the height of preparation for Christmas, yet this will likely be the edition of the Catholic Herald that is in your homes on Christmas Day. As such, I’m going to look forward joyfully and reflect upon the goodness that is “already, but not yet.”

I suppose it’s appropriate to be stuck in this place of anticipation, as it does speak to our lives each and every day, and it’s made especially clear at Christmas.

Rejoice at Jesus’ coming

At Christmas we celebrate and rejoice in the reality of eternal life made possible for us by God’s coming into the world.

We celebrate that everything is now changed for humanity. We celebrate God with us, a light in the darkness, the Word made flesh, God’s Kingdom at hand.

And yet, we remain in a period of waiting and of laboring. The world is not right. We may be redeemed, with hope for forgiveness, but we still fail, and falter, and sin.

When Jesus came into the world, it meant redemption from sin and the hope of an eternity of joy, but it did not mean mankind would be unable to choose otherwise, it did not mean everything would be peachy for us at all times.

No, when the Savior began His ministry, it became clear quickly that this world would be transformed in ways we could not have expected.

Christ’s message to His disciples, “take up your cross and follow me,” did not resound like the glorious fanfare of a triumphant king. In fact, even before His work began, it was clear by His humble surroundings in Bethlehem, that the fullness of this king’s reign would not be immediate -- nor in accord with the expectations of many.

In Jesus’ time and in our own, the paradox of the world having been redeemed by a king born in a stable, who would not bring immediate order to the lives of all, who would eventually suffer the most humiliating of deaths, and who would leave behind fallen human beings to proclaim His message and dispense His grace, has been a “stumbling block, and “a foolishness,” to many.

We believe, preach, hope

And yet we believe, we preach, we hope.

We cry out the Good News of Christ’s birth, with the same passion of the Prophet Isaiah in the First Reading of the Vigil Mass of Christmas, “For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her vindication shines forth like the dawn and her victory like a burning torch (Is 62:1)!”

And what do we need in order to have such courage and passion in proclaiming the Good News of Christ’s birth, even when the world seems to be so confused?

We need hope and complete trust in God and in His plan for us and for the world. We need (as I mentioned last week in the column and as I’ve been speaking about everywhere I’ve gone) to reclaim for ourselves the great gift of Fear of the Lord.

Trusting in God

We cannot know God’s plan for our lives, for the world, for His Church.

With that lack of knowing comes fear and discomfort. But with it should also come the realization, once again, that God is God, and we are not. For the woman or man of faith, Fear of the Lord should be followed immediately by tremendous peace, and hope, and joy.

God IS God. He is the creator of the universe and the one who has sent His Son among us. Like Mary and with Mary, we should trust that the Almighty has done great things for His lowly ones, by the Incarnation.

Mary should be our model

In fact it is Mary who should always be our model at Christmas time. From the time that the Angel appeared to her, Mary knew that God was with her, she knew that this child was to be, “great . . . Son of the Most High” (Lk 1:32).

Mary knew that Jesus was the Messiah and she was confounded, saying, “How can this be?” The angel’s response added to the strangeness and mystery, for Gabriel’s response is little more than, “God has a plan . . . not only for you but for your cousin Elizabeth too . . .” There is no consoling explanation from the angel, only, “God has a plan which you cannot possibly understand.”

And how does Mary respond to this revelation that God has a plan she could not possibly understand? “May it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). She responds with complete trust and confidence in God.

Pray for guidance

This should be our attitude and our prayer at Christmas: “Lord, I do not know what you are doing in my life. I do not know your plan. I see that so often there is suffering, there is confusion, and there is difficulty. I do not know how it will all be resolved. I am frightened to realize that I am not in control of it. And yet, I know that you are God; I know what you have done through Jesus your Son.

“I see the great, immeasurable good that comes with following Him, and I trust that I will see Him when He comes again in glory.

“The things of this world may come and go. Government rulers and laws may change. Even your Church may grow and change in ways I do not understand, but all of this serves to strengthen my resolve to put my trust firmly in you.

“You are God, and yet you have revealed yourself in the form of a tiny child, so that we might not be afraid to approach Your Light, despite our living in the darkness.”

God does have a plan

Let us embrace the reality of God’s greatness and the fact that the Almighty does have a plan. And with confidence, let us tell of His greatness and plan for the world.

Blessings to you and your loved ones both in this Christmas Season, and into the New Year! Thank you for taking the time to read this!

Christ is born! With joy, let us adore Him! Praised be the Word incarnate! Praised be Jesus Christ!