August 5, 2011

Faith, Hope and Charity / David Siler

God’s perfect plan

David SilerI recently watched the movie The Adjustment Bureau that gives human form to what were referred to as “agents.”

These “agents” might be more appropriately referred to in our Catholic tradition as “angels.” The Adjustment Bureau was headed by the “chairman”—God—who we never physically see.

The bureau’s agents create minor adjustments in the lives of human beings to keep them on track for their predestined plan—the plan put in place by the chairman. These minor adjustments might be seen as coincidences or accidents by the individual experiencing them, but are just enough to ensure that the plan written by the chairman for each person’s life is followed exactly.

I enjoy most movies that stimulate thought and reflection, and The Adjustment Bureau did just that. The movie seemed to bring to the big screen the question that many of us ponder regarding our own free will, the role of God, and perhaps God’s angels in our lives.

I have had many conversations with people who insist that everything happens for a reason or who say there are no accidents. I just have never been able to reconcile this principle with what I have come to know of the nature of God.

For instance, how do you tell the family of Lauren Spierer, the Indiana University student missing in Bloomington, that there is a reason for their sister or daughter to be taken from them, or how does a child physically abused by her father find consolation in that philosophy?

I have adjusted this philosophy just slightly, but in a way that makes a significant difference by saying “it isn’t so much that everything happens for a reason, but if you look hard enough you can find reason in everything that happens.”

Following the movie, as I pondered the idea of what God’s plan for me—and for all us—really is, it occurred to me that God’s whole plan can really be summed up in the principle of love. Since God’s own essence and nature is love, and we are made in that same image and likeness, there can really be no other plan.

If all of us operated solely on the principle of love, made all of our decisions based on love, “the plan” would operate beautifully—without wounds being inflicted from one person to another. Like we are reminded by Jesus, the entire law can be summed up in the command to love God, our neighbor and ourselves. No other laws would be necessary if “the law” is kept.

Of course there is pain, suffering and evil alive and well in the world. But to say that these things are part of God’s plan does not fit with God’s essence.

Sin entered the world at the beginning of creation and will always be with us, but we can always choose love as we draw ever closer to God, the source of love.

And when we do, the plan works perfectly.

(David Siler is the executive director of the archdiocesan Secretariat for Catholic Charities and Family Ministries. E-mail him at

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