Offers food for thought
Part 1 of the Lenten Series
Talk Presentation Recorded Live
Throughout his life, his radical obedience is set before us. As a child, according to Luke 2:51 the Son of God obeyed his parents, “He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them.” As a man on trial, he reminded Pontius Pilate that he would have no power if it were not from God; but nevertheless subjected himself to Pilate’s authority. (John. 19:11)
Jesus was willing to be obedient to the will of the Father, to go to the Cross, trusting that it must be. Trusting in God and God's love transforming the world by the victory of his cross. That same love changes each one of us if we believe and receive it. That same love helps us to invite others to experience an unimaginable transformation within themselves and a life of freedom. That’s God’s love in action, changing the whole world. But it doesn’t happen without radical obedience in sacrificial love. "If you want to be my disciple, take up your cross and follow me." Jesus is telling us that the only way our world will be transformed -- where everyone has a chance for a full human life -- the only way that's going to happen is when we follow Jesus completely. We can do it if we go deeply into our hearts to listen to God speaking to us, and say, Yes.
Jesus indicated the importance of holy obedience for us, when he said, "Who is My mother, or My brothers?" And He looked around in a circle at those who sat about Him, and said, "Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother" (Mark 3:33-35).
Obedience is a moral virtue. The virtue that inclines the will to comply with the will of another who has the right to command. The extent of obedience is as wide as the authority of the person who commands. Therefore, as St. Thomas Aquinas states in the Summa Theologica (II, II, Question 104, Articles 4 and 5), God is to be obeyed in all things.
The New Testament word for obedience, hupakoe, is a compound word of two Greek words, hupo, "under," and akouo, "to hear." So to obey is "to hear under," which means to listen attentively with a heart of compliant submission and, then, obey.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that "The duty of obedience requires all to give due honor to authority and to treat those who are charged to exercise it with respect, and, insofar as it is deserved, with gratitude and good-will." (1900)
These definitions of obedience help us to understand that when it comes to God, as scripture says in the letter of James 1:22, "be doers of the word, and not hearers only." We ought to understand this in its fullest sense; that obedience to God isn’t a matter of doing the minimum as though choosing from a buffet of options, but rather to be radically, immediately and fully responsive. We are being called to stop committing the sin of Adam and Eve. God gave them clear instructions not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Gen 2:16 ). He expected their obedience. They disobeyed, and we know what happened next. But we were not without hope. God had a plan.
Jeremiah, in Chapter 31 Verse 33, proclaimed that the time was coming, when God "will put my law within them. I will put my law within them, and write it on their hearts." If we walk in the power of the Holy Spirit, take the time to pray, to be quiet, to listen, the Holy Spirit's abiding presence will enable us to hear God speaking, telling us how to fulfill this covenant. If you are willing to trust and obey God, God will reveal Himself to you and direct your steps.
This obedience doesn’t ensure a life of ease and comfort. Evil comes into the lives of those who reject and those who embrace God. Again, the scriptures confirm this, and the life of Christ is a living testimony. But, if we listen to him, and are increasingly radically obedient to God, then we understand the truth of the words “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.” (Matthew 7:24-27).
Active commitment to live a holy life before God and others is the response to the Word of God in Leviticus 19:2 that says, "Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy," and is evidence of a total love for God that results in unhesitating obedience to his will, and emanates in a holy transfiguration that calls others saying, "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)
Last week’s Gospel Acclamation from Matthew 4:4, that “One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God,” gives us insight into the degree to which obedience to God is critical to being able to grow in holiness, be transformed and transfigured. Our experience of encountering God as we listen, should be an increasingly transformative series of encounters of being gazed upon by God during which we tremble with deep desire in anticipation of being directly spoken to and with unbridled excitement to act.
Jesus points us to this desired intimacy in saying in John 14:21, “Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.” Obedience is the proof of love, and love brings us into incredible intimacy. Within that intimate encounter with the Lord, his affections flow and he reveals himself to us, and us to ourselves. I choose to obey him. Our hearts become enflamed with zeal for his closeness, and obedience fuels that fire. Recall that moment in the life of St. Francis when “as his friends were out of sight, he looked up at the stars. “God! God!” he murmured beseechingly, and he repeated the word “God” many, many times. He felt as though drops of fire were falling onto his heart one by one, and it was a fire that did not burn but intoxicated.. His heart was bursting with fire. His arteries were like a burning bush.. And he felt himself lifted up into a great Light. He was aflame with God.”
During Lent, we have an opportunity to deepen our prayer life, to take more time to look deeply into our hearts, to listen, to obey and listen to God speaking to us, asking us to repent and believe.
Part 2 of the Lenten Series
Part 3 of the Lenten Series
Part 4 of the Lenten Series
Part 5 of the Lenten Series
Part 6 of the Lenten Series
Conclusion of the Lenten Series
Peace doesn't just happen; it's made.
CampusPadre is a college ministry Priest Chaplain with 30 years experience in youth and young adult ministry, who strives to let the Holy Spirit lead and challenges students to seek holiness above all.