|By Fr. Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose and Vicar General for special projects, Diocese of San Jose. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Surrender to God
The term “surrender” is not a term that we use in positive terms today. We think of the term “surrender” as a military surrender. We think of somebody who has just given up and backed off. “Okay. That’s it. I give up. You win.” It is a sense of the play of last resort. We surrender only when we know we are completely beaten down. We have no chance of “winning.” In military terms, we literally hand down our weapons, raise a white flag, or put arms up over our heads. We will basically surrender to our enemy and hope for the best.
This term is also used in religious ways, that we surrender ourselves to God. But it is not done in the same negative way. Instead we still have a choice. We surrender ourselves willingly not to a military force or one of an evil enemy but we surrender ourselves, our will to God the Almighty Father. We give ourselves over willingly by choice to do what the Lord wants us to do in our lives.
In our world, we struggle with the term “surrender” as we often think we will lose our freedom. We think we give up everything that we have as human beings and we have to let it all go and just surrender to God in some sort of negative way, sort of giving up of oneself in an ignorant sort of way. Instead, the religious term really calls us to surrender our will by choosing to follow Christ in a new and exciting way.
In this Season of Advent, we are called to step back and look at how we do what we do as disciples. Do we allow ourselves to be guided by God? Do we really surrender ourselves to the Lord? The first reading gives us a statement of surrender: “We are the clay, you are the potter.” The clay surrenders itself completely to the potter and allows the potter to do what he needs to do.
May we take a moment in Advent to “stay awake” as the Lord asks us by opening our eyes once again to what God has given us already. By doing so, we then surrender ourselves once again to the Lord and allow his will to become our will. He is the one who formed us and if we can allow him to continue to transform us by acknowledging that we are the clay and he is the potter.
It is not a giving up of your will in the sense of surrender to an enemy. It is an exciting letting go of the will; it is an exciting surrender of oneself to the free choice that God who is my mentor and my guide knows me better than I know myself.
The only way I know how to do this is in prayer. I suggest that we re-commit ourselves to prayer each and every day so the Lord can guide us from within. May we surrender ourselves to the Lord as we prepare for his coming once again. May we stay awake and surrender to his will.