I think it was St. Ignatius of Loyola who said that about 95% of the time we can come to know God’s will for us by using our mind, common sense and prudence. In today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, the leaders of the early church have a problem. The Greek-speaking widows in the community were being neglected by the Church. The native born Jewish widows, born in the Holy Land and who spoke Hebrew were getting better treatment. The apostles asked the Greek-speaking Jewish members of the community to seek out seven men, deeply spiritual and prudent, to oversee the care of these neglected widows. Hands were imposed and thus began, in the early church, the office of the Deacon.
What an orderly and reasonable approach the apostles took to solving this problem. They did not act as dictators. They delegated the representatives of the Greek-speaking community to seek out the seven who would serve as deacons.
So, God can most often be found by using our intelligence and prudence and working with others in doing what God wants. However, the gospel story today tells us that now and then God bypasses our part and works a miracle to get things done. The apostles were caught in a storm at sea. Jesus comes along and the next thing they know the boat is safely ashore. Their brain thrust had nothing to do with the resolution of the problem. They did not even have time to ask Jesus for help. Problem Solved!
There is something about this approach that is quite humbling to the great management approach to problem solving that is so dominant in our world today. No matter how good we might be at organizing our life, we need to always be ready for God to pull a big surprise on us. Out of nowhere, we feel the thrust of God’s power pushing us forward. Just recently this has happened to me and I am still wondering where God is taking me. I just keep stumbling around until God can finally get my steps together and take me where he wants me to go.
We must never lose our ability to say "Abba". With the trust of a child, we allow God to pick us up and take us where he wills.
Fr. Blaise Czaja, C.P. gives parish missions and retreats. He is a member of the Passionist Community in Detroit, Michigan.