Chapter 10 – Good Will
You have often heard at holy Mass the words “Gloria in excelsis” as they were sung by the angels at the birth of Our Lord: Glory to God on high, and peace to men of good will! Peace must then be the summing up of all good, and especially of all good made available to the soul of man by the birth of Jesus. And to whom is this precious gift promised? To men of good will; no others can have part in it, but no one whosoever gives proof of good will is excluded. What a precious thing therefore good will is. But are they very numerous of whom it may be said that they have good will? We can be very easily deceived in this respect. Good will consists in having good and steadfast intentions.
Good intentions, that is, we must seek the good and intend to do it, first and last. A child with a good will is one who sincerely strives to do what is right. When a lesson is to be studied, an exercise to be written, he does the work cheerfully. He does not hurry just to get through with his task, he is not satisfied with knowing his lesson only nearly, he wants to do what is right in the right way.
The child with a good will sets himself to work on the task imposed, he wants to do it as well as he possibly can. He may not always succeed, but at least you can perceive that an effort has been made. We find evidences of this good will in him also when such serious obligations confront him, as prayer, the practice of Christian virtues, the correction of faults, and preparation for first Holy Communion; through all this the child of good will remains faithful to himself, he sincerely desires to do his duty, his intentions are good. And while sincere his good will is also steadfast, not fitful and changeable, there is no mistaking of good desires, good notions, for good will. Good desires and good notions are all very well in themselves, but they are not real good will. In order to acquire good will we must in the first place have the resolution, we must will, and will seriously and firmly.
You can not say that they have a good will, for instance, of children who content themselves with not resisting good influences, who let themselves willingly be induced by a favorable example to do good, but who, if left to themselves, or exposed to evil influences, either remain idle or even take the evil path. There is not good will in such a child, it is rather no will at all; just foolish imitation such as a parrot would be capable of. Alas, what a large number of children imagine that they are possessed of good will just because they are held to do good, because it is made easy for them to do good, so that they feel a real intention to be good. It does not take a great deal to shake good intentions which are not backed by a firm good will.
Every excess is of evil and while you must have a good will it must not allowed to become obstinacy. To forget all prudence and common sense in the desire to do good is not a mark of proper good will. Obstinate persons often have the best of intentions, they may sincerely wish to do right, but they want it done in their own way, according to their own humor, they will insist that their way is best. Say what you will to them, show how it would be better to act otherwise, you will gain nothing, they are obstinate, and will not change their opinion even though injury may follow.
Good will is tractable, it submits to reason. He of good will seeks the good so sincerely that he yields his personal views if he is shown the means to attain its end with certainty. Good intentions at all times firm and resolute, but without obstinacy, such are meant by good will.
Endeavor, my dear children, to be possessed of this ideal good will, and then surely the promises made to those of good will, will be fulfilled in you. We have examples of men of good will who did great things by applying themselves to do their task thoroughly and faithfully, even where more clever or intelligent than they had failed. But above all, in the sight of our Master and Sovereign Judge, the eternal God, we may say that it is only good will that really counts. He will reward us, not according to the number and importance of good works done, but for the amount of good will that we have shown in performing them. We read in the Gospel how the servant to whom the Master gave five talents, brought back five others, another one to whom were given two, brought back two, yet not withstanding this difference in the importance of their task, they both received the same reward, because both had given evidence of the same good will.
Strive, therefore, to be children of good will, to be good and faithful servants, and, as Our Saviour has promised, even if your good will has no other object than little things, they will help you to accomplish greater ones, and with good will the servants of this earth will become kings in the glorious realm of peace, with which God will reward those of good will.