Obedience is a necessity PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 06 September 2015 14:58

REFLECTION

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

We need to understand better the true nature of obedience, appreciate its inner nuances, grow in our conviction of its necessity, fruitfulness and its intimate relation to our freedom.

Nowadays, this virtue is grossly misunderstood, its caricatures better known than its objective reality. It’s generally known to be a burden rather than a liberating constituent element in our life. We need to reclaim its proper place in our personal and collective lives, because without it we would actually undermine our very own humanity.

Yes, this virtue is indispensable in our life.  We are actually created to obey, because first and last we need to obey God, and then also, we need to obey those who have some authority over us in our earthly life.

That’s because we can’t help but live with others, and there will always be others with some authority over us—parents, teachers, public officials, even policemen, etc.—whom we have to obey.

In short, we cannot outgrow the need for obedience. The moment we feel we can do without it, we start heading the wrong way in our life. A lot of evils come as a consequence. All kinds of disorder follow, from the material to the moral and spiritual aspects. But if we obey, we would also generate a lot of good.

We have to do everything to polish and sharpen our sense of obedience, especially as we head toward maturity since the years tend to deaden our need for it. We have to be more aware of those factors that tend to dull our duty to obey.

In fact, the older we get, and the more accomplished and experienced we feel we are, the sharper should be our sense of obedience and more attentive to its finer demands.

Otherwise, we would simply spoil whatever achievements we have gained. It’s like we are gaining ground on the outside but losing ground on the inside, an echo of “what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul.” A terrible collapse would just be a matter of time.

We need to be strongly reminded about this, since we have to contend with formidable undermining forces—culture, lifestyle, media, the scandalous examples of many in politics, business, and even in the church. We have to be ready to do continuing constructive battle of peace and love in this area.

The model for all this is Christ who frequently said, “My food is to do the will of my Father.” And he did so all the way to the cross. Thus, St. Paul said that Christ was obedient until death.

Our obedience should be anchored first of all on the will of God as exemplified by Christ himself. We don’t obey simply because we like the person who gives us orders, or because the order seems reasonable, practical, profitable, etc. We should obey because it is the will of God. Besides, we have to obey because that is really a

constituent part of our nature.

This should not be merely blind obedience. It should be knowingly and freely—in fact, lovingly—done. Even if we don’t understand the wisdom of what is being asked of us, which is what often happens, as long as it is the will of God, or as long as nothing else can be done, we just have to obey.

This was what happened to Christ. When it was not yet his time to die, he managed to escape from those who intended to attack him. But when it was already his time, as determined by his Father, he willingly faced his arrest and all the other indignities all the way to the cross.

There are times when we have to obey in circumstances that are truly unfair. In this situation, we just have to call to mind Christ’s crucifixion. There could have been no greater injustice than that, but Christ obeyed.

As long as we obey mainly out of love of God, then everything will just work out for the good, no matter how unfair, unreasonable, impractical the circumstances may be. With Christ’s crucifixion, what was attained was nothing less than our own salvation.

Obedience is always fruitful, though it may come in forms contrary to our own expectations. St. Peter’s obedience to Christ in going out to the deep and lowering his net for a catch yielded a tremendous amount of fish when the night before he caught nothing.

Let’s polish our sense of obedience. Aside from being intelligent and voluntary, it should be prompt and cheerful, for God rewards a cheerful giver.