This is the second entry of a three-part series on the Benedictine vows of Stability, Obedience, and Conversion of Life. Part One regarding Stability can be found here.
“The third degree of humility is that a person for the love of God submit himself to his superiors in all obedience, imitating the Lord, of whom the Apostle says, ‘He became obedient unto death.'” – “On Humility” chapter 7, The Rule of St. Benedict
Coincidentally, my Rule reading for today is about obedience to my superiors and to God.
I think I know what obedience is and I would even go as far to classify myself as an obedient person. I do what I’m told and I’m usually quiet about it. I’m not a fan of rule breaking and wreaking havoc. However, as much as I’d like to think I’m obedient, I still struggle with spiritual obedience. In the Company of Jesus, postulants, novitiates, oblates, and full members are required to pray two offices a day.
Easy, right? No.
In the mornings, I reach for my prayer book. It doesn’t take more than a few seconds to think about my email, the laundry, or the fact
that I still have a pile of unsorted something on my floor. In the evenings, I’m usually on the Internet too long, rendering my prayer interests to a close zero. I have good intentions of engaging in noon-day prayer, but sometimes, it just doesn’t happen. Through this, I’ve learned that maybe obedience is also about disciplining one’s self to do the work of God. Sure, I could just mouth some prayers as I nod off, but sometimes that ends in nothing but sleep. Praying an office requires discipline on my part for the glory of God. No, there’s nobody physically standing over my shoulder morning, noon, and night, but I know that the Lord Jesus takes precedence in my life.
Over the Internet.
Over my occasional laziness.
Over my life in need of redemption.
Christ was obedient unto death, thus saving all of those who call on Him. Obedience yields wonderful fruit. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was obedient enough to carry Jesus in her womb, thus giving birth to the world’s salvation. Many of the apostles were obedient to the point of death, just as many saints of the olden days. Obedience glorifies God.
I may never be called to martyrdom or to even do something so extravagant for Christ that causes the whole world turns its confused head. However, I am called to live in a way that glorifies Christ, even in the smallest ways. The way I read, write, blog, think, speak, and engage with others. Obedience to Christ means putting away things that try to win me over in exchange for a deepened relationship with the Lord. No, it’s not easy and yes, I fail.
Thankfully, as I pray on a regular basis: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner, I know He hears and has compassion on my lack of perfection. In conclusion, thanks be to God for obedience. Thanks be to God for mercy. Thanks be to God for the life of Christ that is at work still today.