Fr. Christopher Etheridge, IVE
Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent
“I do not seek my own will but the will of the one who sent me.”
These words which come to us at the end of today’s Gospel are worth pondering over. Today’s entire Gospel, in fact, deserves time for meditation. Jesus speaks to us so lovingly and clearly about His relationship with the Father, a relationship that we too must strive after—becoming by grace what Jesus is by nature.
But I want to pause at these final words of Jesus to his listeners: “I do not seek my own will but the will of the one who sent me.” That we could wholeheartedly say the same thing about everything we do must become, especially during our time of formation, the true source of our fulfillment and happiness in this life. In fact, doing God’s will faithfully was the great consolation that Bl. Joseph Allamano remembered on the occasion of his 50th anniversary of priestly ordination.
If you do not know who Bl. Joseph Allamano is, he was the founder of the Consolata Missionaries, and ranks among the great holy men of Turin. As you may know Turin is the birthplace of many saints. Turin is the home to St. Joseph Cottolengo, who founded the “little house” of Divine Providence, which now functions as a city of charity. Cottolengo was a contemporary of another Turin native, St. Joseph Cafasso, who as you probably know mentored another holy man of Turin, St. John Bosco, who in fact was the spiritual director of our model today of perfect Christ-like obedience to the Father’s will: Bl. Joseph Allamano. (I should also add that Allamano was the nephew of Cafasso.)
In his circular letter to missionaries on the occasion of his 50th priestly anniversary Bl. Allamano wrote,
"What consoles me…is the fact that I always strove to do God's will, expressed by my Superiors. If the Lord blessed many works I undertook, so much as to arise admiration at times, my secret was to look for God alone and His Holy Will, manifested to me by my Superiors. This was and is my consolation in life, and will be my confidence at God's Tribunal. I do not think it is pride to propose myself to you as an example and model of obedience. Believe me: Vir obediens loquetur victoriam [An obedient man will speak of victory].”
Like Bl. Allamano and all the other holy priests and religious, we too have heard the voice of Christ calling us to join Him in his mission. Jesus' mission and our own particular missions have one and the same source: God the Father. You are in formation in order to be sent...to be sent like Christ into the world to proclaim the joy of the Gospel--the joy that their is eternal life for those who turn away from sin and turn to Jesus Christ alone.
Let us be reminded that you and I have not come here to do our own wills, but God’s will. We have left the fleeting satisfactions of the world to offer ourselves entirely to the continual work of the Father's plan of salvation (cf. Jn 5:17). We have left everything to become "other Christs", for only...only through Christ can we accomplish the Father's will as true sons. Thus, I turn to these words of St. John Paul II, who reiterates to us the same message as Bl. Allamano, that true satisfaction in the priestly life can only come through laying our lives down for others, first for God and then our neighbor.
"The fulfilment that comes from our ministry does not, in the final analysis, consist in physical or psychological well-being; nor can it ever consist in material comfort and security. Our fulfilment depends on our relationship with Christ and on the service that we offer to his Body, the Church. Each of us is most truly himself when he is 'for others'."
Christ was first "for others". He was for the Father, obedient to death on the cross and He was for us men and our salvation God's gift of eternal life. We must follow in his footsteps, being obedient, ourselves, to the Father's will in all things. May this be the true source of our consolation, both now in the seminary and in our lives as priests, so that when we meet death we can confidently say, "Father, I have held nothing back from You, as You have held nothing back from me."
Vir obediens loquetur victoriam.
Priests of the Institute of the Incarnate Word