“Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey–whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (Romans 6:16)
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
No. 144 – To obey (from the Latin ob-audire, to “hear or listen to”) in faith is to submit freely to the word that has been heard, because its truth is guaranteed by God, who is Truth itself.
No. 397 – Man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in his Creator die in his heart and, abusing his freedom, disobeyed God’s command. This is what man’s first sin consisted of. All subsequent sin would be disobedience toward God and lack of trust in his goodness.
Our primary motive for obedience should always be the love of God and the desire to please the One we love. The greatest joy that can come to a faithful Christian at the end of his life will be to hear Our Blessed Lord say: “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21)
Our Lord Jesus Christ was perfect in his obedience to the Father. If we desire to imitate Jesus, then we need to obey God. The Most Holy Trinity of God – Father, Son, together with the Holy Spirit – have shown us the way to perfect obedience, contained in Holy Scripture and in all the teachings of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. If we want to imitate Our Lord, if we want to become more ‘Christlike’, if we want to live the new life that God has promised us, we must be obedient to all that God has told us to do.
Our Lady is the perfect model of obedience in all things to God. From her very conception, till her momentous “Fiat” when “the Word was made Flesh” in her sacred womb, through her joys and sufferings during the earthly life of her Divine Son, until her final Holy Assumption into Heaven, Mary was the humble maidservant of the Lord. Raised by God to the greatest heights, crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth, she is our motherly advocate on our own journey to God. She will assist us in our endeavours to imitate her perfect example of loving obedience.
“If you live according to the sinful nature you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (Romans 8:13). Paul gives us exactly the same choice as God did through Moses: “I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19). Obedience leads to life; disobedience to death and separation from God for all Eternity.
Man’s propensity to sin will lead us to disobey God countless times throughout our lives. God sees our many weaknesses but looks into the depths of our soul to scrutinise our hearts’ intentions. If our real desire to obey the Divine Will is honest and sincere, and our innermost yearnings are for His love and saving grace, He will lead us to seek forgiveness for having transgressed the Divine law. Through His Divine Mercy, poured out most especially in the Holy Sacrament of Confession, we can be led back time and again into communion with God. While we have breath in our bodies, there is always time to repent, turn back, and point our lives towards holiness and God once more. Perfect obedience is not easy, willful, headstrong creatures that we are, but with prayer and humility we shall grow in our love for holy obedience – and the path that leads to Life Everlasting in God’s Presence.
Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen O.C.D., author of “Divine Intimacy“, states:
“One of the greatest obstacles to full conformity of our will to God’s is our attachment to our own desires and inclinations. Obedience, because it asks us to be governed by the will of another, is the best way of accustoming ourselves to renounce our own will, of detaching us from it, and of making us cling to the divine will as revealed in the orders of our superiors.
The stricter the form of obedience to which we submit — that is, the more it tends to govern not only some particular detail but our whole life — the more intense will its practice be, and the more surely will it make us conform to the will of God. This is the great value of obedience: to unite man’s life with the will of God: to give man in every circumstance, the opportunity to govern himself, not according to his weak, fragile will, which is so subject to error, blindness and human limitations, but according to the will of God. This divine will has such goodness, perfection and holiness that it can never be mistaken nor will what is evil; it aims only at the good — not the transitory good, which today is and tomorrow is not — but the eternal, imperishable good.
Obedience makes us this happy exchange: renunciation of our own will for God’s will. For this reason the saints loved obedience.
If it is costly to nature to give up one’s own will, to renounce a plan, a project, or a much cherished work, the interior soul will not stop at this act of renunciation, but will realise that by suffering and struggling to overcome itself, it will be carried much further. The soul is fixed in the will of God which comes hidden in the voice of obedience and it tends toward this will with all its strength, for to embrace the will of God is to embrace God Himself.”