In the Lord’s Prayer we pray that God’s Will be done on earth as it is in heaven. His Will is accomplished perfectly in heaven, but what about on earth? God’s Will is also perfectly accomplished on earth. Sin seems to be a violation of that Will, but God permits sin so that we might choose Him. This is called “the permissive Will of God.” God does permit evil to exist. He does permit the devil to tempt us. Our free will requires such a choice. God loves us so much that He gives us the freedom to sin. But His plan is that we choose Him over sin.
The statement of the Catechism of the Catholic Church that His Will is that men should have access to Him, through Jesus and in the Holy Spirit, and thus become sharers in the divine nature echoes many scripture passages. God’s perfect Will is for all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of His love. The Bible is an invitation to a love affair with God. Like all invitations, it has an RSVP.
An old catechism question was “Why did God make me?” The answer was that God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this life and to be happy with Him in the next. This contains a lot of wisdom about the Will of God. When your search for God has brought you to the knowledge of His love for you which we hear in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he sent His only Son,” then your heart is ready to be filled with that love. We do not love that which we do not know. Having known that love then we serve God but not as slaves or servants. Our service is a free return of love as we seek to act lovingly in all things.
We have to move from the general to the particular. God loves the world. More importantly, God loves me. It is a personal relationship. Sin comes between us and God. While sin is “permitted” in the permissive Will of God, God’s perfect Will is that we choose Him and sin no more. All sin is selfishness. When we pray “Thy Will be done” we must be ready to put aside all selfish thoughts and actions for the love of God.
When you love someone, what you want most for them is what they want. When you love God, then what God wants is that you know He loves you with an infinite and eternal love. Read the scriptures and “know” love, Jesus.
Father Patrick Toner is pastor at Saint Joseph Catholic Church, 140 West Ave., Plain City. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (614) 873-8850.