On Knowing the Will of God

We do not cease praying for you
and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will
through all spiritual wisdom and understanding
~ First Reading

Knowing the will of God is often looked upon as a mystical gift, a hidden treasure reserved for the few, yet Jesus teaches us the primary ways that we come to know the will of God in today’s Gospel. Jesus begins “standing by the Lake of Gennesaret,” which refers to those interior and particular inspirations of God’s will that come through a life of regular mental prayer. Notice the closeness of Jesus to those souls He is teaching as they “[press] in on [Him].” Notice also that it can be difficult to hear the voice of Jesus here, for we are in a “crowd” of other voices, viz., our own, the world’s, the devil’s, etc.

Proceeding from this place, our Lord enters Simon Peter’s boat and sits down. This is an important difference from the last scene where our Lord was standing. In the ancient world, sitting was the posture of authoritative teaching. Unlike personal inspirations, which are often subject to uncertainty and need the discernment of a prudent spiritual director, the teaching which Christ now issues are clear and definitive. This teaching comes from the Simon Peter’s boat, viz., the Church, and represents the extraordinary Magisterium and direct Divine Revelation, e.g., Sacred Scripture.

Continued Teaching

The Gospel then records that, “After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon.” Christ is still sitting in the boat, viz., still teaching through the Church, but now Simon is the voice. To show the direct continuity of the teaching, the evangelist does not so much as finish the sentence where Christ stops speaking to the crowds before he records Him speaking to Simon. Further, to show that this teaching shall come through the ordinary actions of Simon’s new office, Christ commands him to, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch,” which are the ordinary actions of Simon’s current occupation. To show the efficacy of Christ’s action through His bishops and especially the pope, this means knowing God’s will is validated with a miracle. A miracle which foreshadows the vast number of people that shall come to “be filled with the knowledge of God’s will” through the ordinary Magisterium, viz., the divinely guided human tradition of the Church and those teachings echoed through the ages yet without a direct infallible definition.

Seeing the Fruit

We see the fruit of exercising all three of these means with Simon’s radical acceptance of Jesus’ call. By first conforming ourselves to the objective moral, liturgical, and canonical laws taught/defined by the Church, we too can be like Simon in his boat with Jesus. We can clearly hear the call of Jesus, away from the crowd, and respond freely, “[leaving] everything and [following] him.”

[Readings: Col 1:9-14; Lk 5:1-11]

Connor Szurgot

Through his reversion to the Faith at the end of high school, Connor experienced first hand both the power of grace and the intellectual rigor of the Church’s teachings. He continued to grow his knowledge during his college studies at NC State, where he was also blessed to meet his future wife. He now lives in Raleigh, NC with his beautiful wife and young son, where he is a parishioner of St. Luke the Evangelist. He is excited to give to others some of the fruit that God has given to him and hopes that it can help those who read it grow in holiness. Email: [email protected]

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