What is your dream? Do you have one? What are your hopes for the future? What are your plans for yourself and your loved ones? Most people have a dream; big or small, elaborate or simple, short term or long term. Ask a young person and they will often have not only a clear goal for their life, some even have it all mapped out in the most precise detail; they have a blueprint for achieving their plan.
My own casual observations lead me to imagine that people look at their future in one of two ways. Watch little Billy in the schoolyard. He clears a patch of ground under a tree and with a stick traces out a road. Along the way he puts little buildings, a school, a petrol station, his own house. Then he spends his time driving the roads he has built, stopping to refuel and make repairs to his toy car which he then parks in the garage at his imaginary home.
Little Bobby has another approach entirely. He drives his car all around the playground on a road which only he can see. He stops every now and then to clear obstacles or turn invisible corners and parks his car wherever his fancy dictates.
Billy lives according to what I call the blueprint model. Many people live their lives this way, especially in their relationship with God. They see themselves as God’s little car which he drives along the predetermined roads he has made for them. All they have to do is make sure they don’t take a wrong turn and spoil God’s plan. These people will say ‘God has a plan for me’ and they ardently beg him to reveal it to them.
People like Bobby live the free range model. They believe God doesn’t mind where they go because he is always with them, like a passenger, no matter which turn they take along the road. Bobby doesn’t ask if God wants him to be a dentist or a vet or a cook, he knows that God will be with him no matter which choice he makes, provided it is within God's law.
A good argument can be made for each of these models and we can switch to them at various times in our lives according to the issues we’re facing. Undoubtedly God does have a plan for each of us. It is, as the Penny Catechism used to say, that we: know him, love him, and serve him, here on earth and be happy with him for ever in heaven. As well, Jesus' answer to the Pharisees: You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind … You must love your neighbour as yourself (Mtt 22:37-39). That’s quite enough to be going on with, wouldn’t you say?
And yet, for some of us, God also has what might be called a blueprint, a special means for achieving his plan. To the prophet Jeremiah he intimated: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you came to birth I consecrated you; I have appointed you as prophet to the nations (Jer 1:5). Isaiah, too, was called and sent (Is 6:8). And St Paul in today’s second reading makes it clear to the Corinthians that he was: appointed by God to be an apostle.
Some of us God chooses in a particular way so that his plan for all may be fulfilled. When this happens he intervenes with special helps and charisms so that his plan will not fail. He sends an angel to warn Joseph of Herod’s evil intentions and warns the wise men to return by a different way. He assists John the Baptist by revealing to him that: the man on whom you see the Spirit come down and rest is the one… .
Our liturgy today is full of evidence of God’s tireless initiative in achieving his plans for us:
- your watchful care
- orders all things
- your loving plans
- you have nourished us
- given wine in plenty
And there is ample evidence of our awareness and longing for God’s initiative:
- hear our prayers
- show us the way
- help us to embrace your will
- give us the strength to follow your call
People are generally very busy trying to make something of themselves; God is infinitely busier working at their project than they are. For each of us God has a plan; for each of us the blueprint is Jesus. To those extraordinary individuals for whom God has a special task he will give an unshakeable call. We need not worry; just keep praying. He will make it all clear.
In the scroll of the book it stands written that I should do your will (Responsorial Psalm), but if you should call me in a special way: Here am I, Lord.