This season always seems to bring the unexpected. Obviously that was the case for Mary: to have to travel to Bethlehem so late in her pregnancy. This excerpt from a meditation by Mother Mary Francis underscores the truth that nothing is unexpected to God. May we continue to travel with Mary through the rest of our Advents. (This is a bit lengthy, but well worth reading the whole of it.)
God has a great plan also in what we call the unexpected. It isn’t unexpected to God. He planned it from all eternity. There is no happenstance in life, certainly not in the spiritual life. So often we say, “Oh, I didn’t expect that to happen!” Well, God did. We could think, “Oh, that is what caused everything to go wrong”, but actually that is what is supposed to make everything go right. There is nothing unexpected in all of creation. There is a plan in what we would call the unexpected. Wasn’t the Incarnation the most unpredictable thing that could ever have happened? God has his whole master plan for each of our lives. . . for the whole Church, and we should delight to remember that nothing should ever take us by surprise, except the wonder of God’s plan.
Our Lady was certainly not expecting the Annunciation, and the whole plan of redemption was most unexpected to humanity–the whole idea of it, that the Father’s Divine Son, himself God, should become man, should be incarnated through the agency of this young, unknown girl in a city of which someone was to say, “Can any good come out of that little place?” What was more unexpected? This was the whole plan.
God, speaking through the prophet Jeremiah, says, “I know well the plans I have in mind for you” (Jeremiah 29:11). We don’t, but that’s wonderful. If we trust a human being very deeply, we would accept that. If you were to say to me, “I just don’t get this at all”, I would say, “I can’t explain it to you now, but take my word for it: it’s going to turn out right if you will just do what I’m asking you.” And I would venture to say you would believe me. Can we do less for God, who is saying exactly this to us? “I know well the plans I have in mind for you, plans for your welfare, not for woe! Plans to give you a future full of hope. I don’t reveal all the details of those plans because I cannot deprive you of faith. I cannot deprive you of hope. I cannot deprive you of the glory of trusting in me. I cannot deprive you of the wonder of seeing my plan as it unfolds. I don’t want you to read the whole story and the last page, I want you to keep reading and to enjoy the wonder of what’s coming next in the way that children say, ‘And then what? And then what?'” God knows the next page, the next chapter, and even the last page. It is a plan, and all we have to do is place our lives at the service of that plan so that without presumption we can say, “Yes, the Word will be made a little less unutterable through the word of each of our lives, a little more manifest because we have placed our lives at the service of his plan.”
It is sufficient that God knows this plan. When it is hard to accept things, we should make that part of our prayer. We want to become very intimate with him as the great mystics were in very simple, humble ways, saying, “Dear God, I don’t get this at all, but I’m so glad that you do. And I know that you have a plan and I only want to be at the service of your plan.” And who of us, in her own life, has not had experience of htat? The very things that sometimes seemed so hard, so suffering, so puzzling and bewildering, were the very things out of which would come a wonder that we could never have dreamed of.
In our personal lives there is a wonderful unfolding. It is wonderful to keep going forward. Even our Lady did not know the last page. The morning of the Resurrection was not the last page. She still had much work to do with the infant Church, which held together around her, her life still being placed at the service of his plan. Why didn’t the Lord take her with him right away? Nor was her life at the service of his plan completed at her own Assumption, because she still is the Mother of the Church. The Church is still living and it will go on until the end of time. And even then her work will not be done, because then it becomes the Church triumphant of which she is still the Queen. And so, let us determine in all the events of each day to place our lives at the service of his plan. This is the Happiest way that a person can live. (from Come, Lord Jesus, pp. 198-200)