Lovely melodies have been written for today’s responsorial psalm (the response is “Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will”), which make for pleasant congregational singing.
Sometimes, however, I feel a disharmony, not in the music but in me. The statement I’m making by joining in and the way I feel about some part of my life don’t fit together.
The words affirm a desire to do whatever God’s will might be; my desire to do that is not always robust, to say the least. “To do your will, O my God, is my delight,” the psalmist sings. In all honesty, I’m glad to leave that line to the cantor.
Jesus, who prayed all the psalms, must have prayed this one. In fact, the New Testament Letter to the Hebrews pictures him praying lines from this particular psalm.
Jesus certainly did not feel that there was anything out of tune when he made these words his prayer. (Did he sing them?) He really did want to do whatever God wanted. He was the beloved Son who loved the Father with all his heart.
The contrast between Jesus and me is hugely humbling, of course. Yet it is not discouraging.
First, because he has entered into the human condition that I and everyone else in the world find ourselves in. Another passage in the Letter to the Hebrews speaks vividly of Jesus in Gethsemane, offering “prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death.”
If in some sense Jesus delighted in God’s will even in Gethsemane, he certainly felt the same deep reluctance to suffer in obedience to God that all of us feel. With loud cries and tears he begged the Father to find some other way than his crucifixion to reconcile humanity to himself.
Second, Jesus has come to share his Spirit with us. The climax of today’s Gospel is the announcement by John the Baptist that the Son of the Father has arrived to “baptize with the Holy Spirit.”
“Baptize” means immerse. Think of a couple of 10-year-olds throwing a friend into a swimming pool. Jesus has come to toss us into the ocean of God’s life-creating, all-loving Spirit.
Immersed in God’s Spirit, we can truly begin to sing, “Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.”