Doing God’s Will in a VUCA World

[Homily. Assumption Chapel.  ,Jan. 23, 2023.]

At the ADDU we have been conversing about concerns in our VUCA world.[i]  VUCA is jargon in the business world for volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.  In fact, the situation in the world is much worse.  Today’s VUCA world is also violent, unjust, confusing and arbitrary. 

The violence of the world is not only in Ukraine.  In Myanmar, the military junta is destroying Buddhist monasteries and Catholic churches; they are killing innocent worshippers.  In Mindanao, the open-pit coal mining in Brgy. Ned, So. Cotabato and the replacement of biodiverse forests with mono-crop farms are socially unjust.  In the Philippines, the policies on how we are to promote renewable energy to arrest global warming in a milieu that is yet addicted to fossil fuels are confusing.  And citizens’ choices of political leaders and of ideologies are increasingly arbitrary. 

Whoever Does the Will of God

In our Gospel for today, Jesus is told his mother and his brothers were asking for him.   For the evangelist, Mark, these are probably the same relatives who, seeing him so fully engaged with the crowd he couldn’t eat, said, “He is out of his mind!” (Mk 3:21).  Jesus replies:  “Who are my mother and my brothers?”  Looking at those seated around him, he states, “Here are my mother and my brothers.  For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother” (Mk 3:33-35).

For Jesus, more important than the concerns of his relatives, was the will of his Father. This was already clear when as youth of twelve years of age he stayed behind in the temple to do the business of his father, upsetting Mary and Joseph quite profoundly” (cf. Lk 3:41-50).  

In today’s reading from the Letter to the Hebrews, Jesus says to his Father,  “Behold I come [in the world] to do your will, O God.”  Hebrews then explains,  “By this will we have been consecrated [we have been sanctified, made holy]  through the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ once for all” [on the Cross] (Heb 10:5-10).

We know that Jesus’ obedience to his Father’s will “unto death” was not easy for him.  Luke reports that in his agony in the garden, considering the pain his passion and death would cost him. “His sweat became as drops of blood falling on the ground.”  In the end, however, Jesus  said, “….not my will but yours be done” (cf. Lk. 22:39-42b).

As Jesus did his Father’s will, are we not also being invited to do God’s will?

In this VUCA world, what is the will of God?

God’s Will in His Commandments

In the Gospel of Mark, the will of God is expressed in two commandments, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.  …  You shall love your neighbor as yourself”  (Mk 13:29-31).

That was a summary of the commandments of God (cf. Exodus 20:2-17; Deut 5:6-12) which do express his will – even for a VUCA world.

I am the Lord, you God.  You shall not have strange gods before me.  Do not idolize money.  Do not idolize fame and glory.  Do not idolize power.  Do not make yourself into God.

You shall not take my name in vain.  Do not say I will what only you will.  Do not say I want war when only you want war.  Do not say you defend my honor when you only kill those I love.

Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day.  In your VUCA world, make time for me.  I exist. Make time for rest.  Have time to talk to me.  Make time for rest.  Appreciate the difference between objects and gifts.  Make time for rest, so that you may recall where you are going. 

Honor your father and your mother.  Love them, respect them.  As they nurture and raise you.  As they grow old and need you.

Do not kill people.  Do not kill people with bombs and bullets.  Do not kill people with hatred or disdain.

Do not steal.  Do not steal money.  Do not steal the honor of another.  Do not steal the future of another. 

Do not lie.  Do not say you are what you are not.

Do not covet your neighbor’s wife.

Do not covet your neighbor’s goods. 

Do God’s will by doing what he tells us to do and not doing what he tells us not to do. 

Imagine how different the VUCA world would be if only people would do God’s will expressed in his commandments!

Beyond the Commandments

Beyond the commandments, do God’s will by understanding what Jesus told us: “I have come to bring you life, life to the full” (John 10:10).  In bringing us life, he accepted conflict with those who were not life-giving; he denounced hypocrites who made it difficult for people to approach his father (cf Mt. 23).  So anything that you do that diminishes life, truncates it, destroys it is not my will.  Anything that you do that is truly life-giving, that is my will.

“Peace be with you, my peace I give you” (John 14:27), he said.  What you do that brings peace, peace not only exteriorly but interiorly, that is my will. 

Jesus said, “I have told you all this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete” (John 15:11).  Anything that you do that approaches or brings complete joy, that is my will. 

Finally, consider this.  St. James said, “If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well, but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it?  So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (Jas 2:14-17).   Doing God’s will is not in the air.  It responds to real people. 

That is also what Jesus, the just and eternal judge, demands in the Last Judgement for those who in life were confronted with the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the stranger and the imprisoned.  “Whatever you did or did not do for one of these the least of my brothers and sisters, that you did or did not do for me” (cf Mt. 25:31-48).

What are signs of doing God’s will in a VUCA world?   What you do is lifegiving, even if it brings conflict.  Even in suffering, it brings you peace.  Even in pain, it brings you joy.  And it truly helps the least of our Lord’s brothers and sisters in their need.

Your Kingdom come! Your will be done!

[i] Cf. Concerns and Conversations in a VUCA World:

About Joel Tabora, S.J.

Jesuit. Educator
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