By Most Rev. Richard W. Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton

Monday, December 31, 2012

Who's In Control?

Travel disruption. Ugh! It happened to many once again at this very busy travel time. Serious winter storms have caused airport cancellations and delays and have made roads impassable. Frustration and frayed nerves everywhere! What is most frustrating of all is that we are unable to do anything about it. Weather is beyond our control. All we can do is adjust, and we tend not to do that very graciously when we are out of control.

Hmmm. This raises an interesting - and important - question. How do we adjust when circumstances beyond our control disrupt our plans? The brick wall is not limited to capricious weather patterns. Time and again we run up against far more serious matters that stop us in our tracks and make us reassess things: sudden illness, the loss of a job, the death of a loved one, a natural calamity and so on. Adjustments in cases such as these are usually temporary. We change plans as necessary to deal with the situation, all the while with the intention of re-claiming control and getting back to normal, or to what we had originally planned.

On January 1st, however, the liturgy of the Church calls us to an adjustment which is both radical and permanent. The call is to adjust our plans - our life plans! - in the light of God's will for us. This means accepting, in peace, the truth about just who is in control.

The particular celebration marking the first day of the year is the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. To say that any plans she might have had in mind were disrupted by the plan of God would be an understatement. By the message of the angel Gabriel she learned that she had been chosen for a unique place in God's saving plan for the world: she was to be the virgin mother of the Son of God made flesh! Her response was an immediate and faith-filled acquiescence to the will of God, an adjustment that, although radical, was nevertheless in wondrous continuity with a life thoroughly imbued with faith. Mary knew that the only one truly "in control" is God, who guides the course of world events in accordance with his plan, and who calls us to adjust our hopes and desires in light of his saving purpose.

As the new year begins, let us pray that we will learn from Mary's example of faith and be ready, not just at those out-of-control moments but always, to adjust our lives as necessary to live in accord with God's will.