The older I get, the more I appreciate obedience.
Oh, certainly I retain a bit of youthful rebelliousness that sneaks out and breaks curfew now and then. But I’m mostly an exceedingly compliant soul. I drive within the expected norms, I arrive at places on time, and I don my mask when asked. I get my car inspected before it’s due, pay my taxes, and keep the dog quiet after 9 P.M. (And, much to my editor’s delight, I meet my deadlines.)
I’ve never pondered this obedient shift in my demeanor until now. But I guess this change within me is really about the people around me. I don’t want to do anything that makes life more difficult for someone else. Certainly, there is a time and place for disobedience: when institutional norms need to be challenged because they unfairly make life more difficult for others, or when I am being asked to do something that I know in my soul to be wrong.
But more and more, I resonate with the words attributed to St. Teresa of Calcutta: “Wash the plate not because it is dirty nor because you are told to wash it, but because you love the person who will use it next.”
As I age, obedience is no longer about begrudgingly doing what I’m expected to do; it’s about honoring the one asking me to do it, and those who will be blessed by my obedience. After Jesus confronts his parents in the Temple, he returns to Nazareth and was obedient to them (v. 51). Maybe in the long walk from the Temple to his hometown, Jesus intensified his commitment to love the people around him.
Why do you think Jesus modeled obedience to his parents for us? What was he trying to teach us?
God, you have told us that obedience is better than sacrifice. May we become deeply obedient to you and your command to love. Amen.