“The will of man is an essential condition, for, without it, God does nothing.”
– St. Macarius of Egypt. Vladimir Lossky, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1976), p. 199.
In the 19th century, a man named George Wilson was caught and convicted to death for murder. President Andrew Jackson granted him a pardon. However, Wilson, for some unknown reason, refused to accept it. No one knew what to do, so the case was sent to the US Supreme Court. The decision of the Court read, “A pardon is a slip of paper, the value of which is determined by the acceptance of the person. If it is refused, it is no pardon.” George Wilson had to be executed. And he was.
Synergy is a very important term in spirituality. It expresses the Biblical teaching that God does not force His grace and will upon us unless we are willing to accept it. The term synergy derives from the Greek syndergoi, where syn means “with” and ergon means “work.” Synergy in its spiritual context means to work and cooperate with God. In any situation and stage in life, God is willing to do nine steps toward us, but the last and tenth step has to be taken by us. Or, as St. James puts it, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you” (James 4:8).
Today, as we conclude the seven-day celebrations of Assumption, we also continue to explore ways in which we can grow in our faith by the example of the Holy Mother of God. She is an excellent example of perfect synergy. When it comes to the incarnation of our Lord, we often see it as a great divine miracle and overlook the crucial role St. Mary played in helping God make it a reality by accepting it and working along with God. While the initiative was divine, it was St. Mary’s response, “let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38), that set the miracle into motion. She did not hesitate, doubt or question God’s plan of a virgin conceiving and giving birth to the Son of God. And her trust in God was not troubled by the prospect of condemnation, shame and humiliation this might bring to her and her family in a patriarchal society or the fact that such pregnancy might destroy her relationship. She simply trusted and worked with God in perfect synergy.
As God used St. Mary to usher his great plan of salvation, so he wishes to work with us and use us today. During his life, our Lord was always asking others to loan him something for his ministry. He borrowed a cave and a crib where he was born, Peter’s boat to preach his Gospel, a donkey for his entrance into Jerusalem and five loaves and fish to feed the multitude following him. In the same way, the Lord desires to work with us and use us today in brilliant and beautiful ways. How what we have, who we are, our decisions and our lives serve God? Do we nurture in our hearts a sincere desire and thirst to be able to hear, accept and follow his sweet and gentle voice guiding and showing us ways in which we can work with him, for him, lend him our hearts to be cleansed and filled with holiness and be transformed into instruments of divine miracles, restoration and healing?