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It Is Through Obedience

Fifth Sunday of Lent (B)

My dear encountered couples:

There is something we think of in regards to children in relationship to their parents. It is a way of acting, a way of living, a way of being that we might think is only binding upon children. I am speaking of “OBEDIENCE.” Children are expected to be obedient to their parents. They are to listen to their parents and do as they say, even when not understanding why. Their parents are expected to be wiser than they and to discipline their children according to reason and common sense. Whether that is always the case or not is not what I plan to discuss. What I would like to discuss is “obedience,” not only as an obligation of children, but as an obligation binding upon all of us.

Obedience is for you and for me. Obedience is for everyone. Though even mentioning the word might conjure up unpleasant memories and thoughts, make us feel restricted, maybe imprisoned, though it may even seem to go against the freedom promised by the constitution of these United States of America, without each of us learning obedience and living obediently only chaos will exist. That’s one of the biggest problems in our country, in our schools, in our homes now. Obedience is not preached nor practiced as it should be - for the good of all of us.

Jesus was obedient. The Son of God was obedient to his Father from all eternity. As Jesus of Nazareth, no matter how much pain and suffering came upon him through obedience, Jesus continued a life of obedience to his heavenly Father right up to the moment of his death. He still is living in obedience to his Father.

Our second reading taken from the letter to the Hebrews today states this about Jesus: “Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when perfected, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

Through the obedience of Jesus you and I have the opportunity of going to heaven. Adam through disobedience lost heaven for us; Jesus through obedience gained it back. But there is something we have the obligation to learn first before being able to go to heaven; there is something we must do. We also must learn to be obedient as Jesus was, we must practice a life of obedience. You and I by being obedient to Jesus, to God our Father, and to the Holy Spirit can share in the benefits of the obedience of Jesus. Through obedience to God, to all three Persons in God, we can with absolute assurance expect heaven to be our eternal home.

Jesus has left for us the teachings of God. He has shown us how to live according to those teachings of God. We are to study them, pray to understand them, and reach out for God’s help to live them. We are to give ourselves in complete willingness to live obediently as God has told us to live. If we don’t, then we might as well forget about heaven being our eternal home. Heaven is for the obedient only - those obedient to God.

One reason obedience to God isn’t spoken of as much as it should be might be because many of us have already had the experience of too many unpleasant people trying to run our lives, people who don’t really know what they are doing. There are enough people already in positions of authority who don’t know what they are doing; they don’t know how to give orders, they don’t even know what orders to give. And so we might reach the point of saying, “Nobody’s going to tell me what to do anymore!

I’m afraid that because of such people in our lives we misunderstand what it is to be obedient to God. We might look upon it as being obedient to some kind of strong man who likes to throw his weight around and make other people bow to his whims and wishes. That’s not God! God is nothing like a tyrant, a dictator, or a warden; he’s not even a bossy person. It is just that he loves us so much that he wants only what is best for us. And being perfectly knowledgeable and wise he knows what is really best for us. There is no chance of God making a mistake in regard to his telling us how to live. Obedience to God is the smartest move any of us can ever make. It is the only way to happiness. It is the only way to ever experience real love and freedom.

Are we free when we choose to lie or steal or cheat? Of course not! We remain forever in fear of being caught. Are we free when we choose to smoke and drink and take drugs? Not if those things begin making our decisions for us. Are we free when we live selfishly, trying to make as much money as we can and have as much fun as we can while ignoring the lives and needs of others? We become free all right - free from ever experiencing what it is to really love and be loved. We become free from ever experiencing what real happiness is all about. When we are left on our own to choose whatever we feel like choosing, sooner or later we lose all our freedom; we become slaves to pleasure, whims, and greed. And what also usually happens - we become very bored.

Do you consider yourself wise or smart? Are you a person of intelligence, a reasonable person, a person of common sense? If so, then you will devote your life to being obedient to God. You will not merely play around with being a Catholic and doing Christian things when it is convenient and accommodating for you. You will do your best to do all that Jesus has taught us no matter how difficult it becomes, no matter how much pain and suffering might be connected to it.

The person who loves his life will lose it,” Jesus tells us. (That’s the person who lives a disobedient life.) “The person who hates his life in this world preserves it to life eternal.” (That’s the obedient person.) “If anyone would serve me, let him follow me,” says Jesus. “Where I am, there will my servant be.”

We can only follow Jesus to heaven by being obedient to his teachings, by being obedient to his Father as he was. Let’s quit pussyfooting around with Christianity. Let’s get serious about it! Is obedience meant only for children? Of course! For those who call themselves Children of God.

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