Monday, December 17 6:15-7:30pm
Tuesday, December 18 6:15-7:30pm
Wednesday, December 19 6:15-7:30pm
Thursday, December 20 6:15-7:30pm
Friday, December 21 6:15-7:30pm
Saturday, December 22 3-5pm
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On this third week of Advent I would like to treat of the third of the evangelical counsels, which is obedience. It is apparent throughout the Christmas story. Jesus, the Son of God, becomes a child and lives among us to die for us in obedience to His Father’s will. The Letter to the Hebrews expresses the Son’s attitude of obedience in His coming among us: “See, my God, I am coming to do thy will” (Hebrews 10:9). That spirit of obedience is present throughout his life – he obeys his parents in Nazareth, he obeys His Father’s wish that he be baptized in the Jordan by John the Baptist, and above all in his agony in Gethsemane he submits himself to His Father’s will although it will bring the greatest cost to him: “Abba, Father, he said, all things are possible to thee; take away this chalice from before me; only as thy will is, not as mine is” (Mark 14:36).
In the story of Christ’s birth, we also see the obedience of the Blessed Virgin. When the Angel Gabriel asks her to be the mother of Jesus, her answer is simple but profoundly humble and holy: “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38). Saint Joseph silently but faithfully follows the command of the Angel Gabriel and marries Mary. Without their obedience the Incarnation – and our redemption – would not have taken place.
Obedience is at the very core of our Christian life. To truly be faithful to God we must be obedient. This obedience is expressed by our accepting and living out the commandments, the teachings of Christ, and the teachings and laws of the Church – which are the teachings of Christ handed down to us through the ages and are always in fidelity to the Gospel – obedience will never ask us to do what is evil or accept evil because God will not call on us to do what is abhorrent to Him. The virtue of obedience also means accepting God’s will for us – how things turn out for us, including the good things and the hardships of our lives. Obedience cannot and should not be used as a cover for evil as some used it to cover their crimes of sexual abuse or to silence those who sought justice for the victims of abuse.
Obedience is the hardest of the evangelical counsels because it means that we must submit to things that are hard for us to accept and through the hands of weak intermediaries. Pontius Pilate was a weak governor but Jesus saw and accepted the means of his sacrifice for our redemption through Pilate’s hands. That requires faith to see God’s hand at work even through weak and sometimes miserable people – even within the Church. Let us ask for that faith to recognize his will for us, trust to realize that his will is always guided by his love for us even when it is hard, and humility to accept and carry out his will.