Beyond luck is God’s will | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

A story from Fr. Anthony de Mello, SJ, tells about a young man who caught a handsome wild stallion. When the young man brought it home, his neighbors thought him lucky, and wished they had the same luck.


But as the young man was training the wild horse, he fell and suffered an injury serious enough to put his leg in a cast and keep him in bed.


Then his neighbors considered the horse bad luck, and thought the young man should just let it loose again.


War broke out in the country soon after and all able-bodied young men were told to fight in the war.


Still in a cast, the young man was spared. A number of young men from the village died in the war. So the neighbors thought him lucky again.


Fr. De Mello concludes: “Good luck, bad luck, who knows?”


Today’s Gospel, the Parable of the Weeds, tells us not to judge prematurely.


The readings picture a God who is wise and just, faithful and forgiving, while another part of scripture says His mercy rains on the good and the bad.


This is the difficulty we encounter when we live out our faith in a God so radically different from us.


Scripture again says, “Your ways are not my ways.”


We tend to assess and judge experiences and situations in the good-luck-bad-luck mode. We also tend to limit our assessments and judgments within a rational-irrational framework. Yet beyond the rational and the irrational is the non-rational. Beyond good luck and bad luck is fate, the loving providence of a God who is not only present but who actively works in our lives in a very loving way—and in a very different manner from the ways we are accustomed to.




Let me share two stories of two persons who experienced this transcendence of God, His presence and His plan.


One is a person facing a serious health concern. The first time we sat down to talk, he talked of a degenerative disease that the doctor said has no cure. He was given three to five years. The best treatment was to manage the deterioration.


He became at peace with the situation. In fact, he was excited to “go home.” His concern was to live the remaining years peacefully and fruitfully and make them the best years of his life.


At the same time, he also wanted to prepare his loved ones and make them help him live his remaining time meaningfully.


Then days later he told me his family took it very well, and his doctor found a new drug that will retard the degeneration.


He was very happy and grateful to God for these blessings.


I told him that perhaps because he surrendered to God, God took over and His loving providence is now unfolding in this difficult moment in his life. I added that he needs to trust God in a different way.  The man replied that he needed to learn this “different way.”


The second story is that of a female executive due to take over the top post in her organization.


She was offered the job last year, something she tried to turn down.


Eventually, she became more open to taking the post and prepared herself to do so next year when the current CEO retires.


Her first concern is for the job not to change her, that she remains grounded and humble. The second is that as she leads and makes decisions, she will not make compromises when it comes to her core values and beliefs, that she not sacrifice these for the sake of exigencies of the business and the bottom line.


I have been conversing with her regularly about her concerns for a year now at her request.


In our last conversation, we made a breakthrough when it became very clear that the two concerns she articulated are core issues she needs to deal with.


To address her concerns, she will need to create a space of solitude where she can enter and be still. “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46: 10)


Note that the man with the serious health concern thought of contacting me after years of not seeing each other after he read this line from Psalm 46 in my July 6 article.


He felt this was the grace he also needed.


Suspend judgment


The Parable of the Weeds not only shows us the wisdom and mercy of God, but gives us a very practical “tip” on how to act: Suspend judgment and act later.


So much more than suspending judgment is trusting that God has a plan and will in the end put things together beyond our wildest dreams and expectations.


A lot of times, we are too stubborn to completely trust God, to let go completely in “wanton abandon.”


A lot of times also, our success becomes our undoing. Naliligaw tayo. We get lost in the journey and lose sight of the dream, the inspiration. We need to go back and renew.


Even the church is in need of this constant renewal. She has made her own fair share of mistakes in judgment and wrong action.


Two examples, Galileo and Matteo Ricci, both condemned in their time although history eventually proved them right. In fact, the Church honored Matteo Ricci 400 years later as patron of the inculturation of the faith, i.e., presenting the faith in a manner akin to the culture of the people—the very thing he advocated that urged the Church to condemn his work in China.


Our class on Ecclesiology taught us that “Ecclesia semper reformanda”—the Church is always in need of reform.


We are always in need of reform that comes from renewal.  This renewal, in turn, harkens back to the original inspiration that gave meaning to our life. It is going back to the original inspiration.


The renewal of faith and trust brings us to God, whose plan and will bring together all things in our life into a wholeness and holiness beyond our wildest expectations.