Grace to you!
You may have read or heard the story of the baptism of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist at the River Jordan as recorded in the Gospel of Luke 3:15-22. Jesus came to John the Baptist for baptism in obedience to the plans of God the Father. If you wouldn’t mind, I would love to share with you something that jumps out at me as I reflect on that story. It is on the relevance of obedience.
Obedience? Yes, Obedience. I have a sense that many people think obedience is one of those outdated virtues. You may have heard people say obedience reminds them of subjugation and control of human liberty. They claim it stifles true development, freethinking and authentic freedom. Many people wouldn’t want to teach their children obedience. Instead, they would substitute it with words like respect because respect recognizes the equality of all. Is this right? I wouldn’t think so.
Obedience to God is never a limiting thing to the human freedom. It is rather the oil; part of the very manure, if you will, to true human freedom because God has shaped the world and ordered things with some sequences, and obedience to his will makes us ride through the routes of life without unnecessary hindrances. I see in obedience the true freedom to be the best we can, to live a happy life, to reach our ultimate aspirations.
When Jesus came to be baptized by John the Baptist, he was obeying the plan of His Father and in turn, His Father endorsed him publicly. Obedience is glorifying God and when God is glorified, we are fully alive as St. Irenaeus said, “The glory of God is man fully alive”.
I remember when as a young zealous priest, I was torn between obeying my Bishop and doing what in my opinion I thought was better for my ministry. I thought I was doing well. Actually, thousands of people were spiritually nourished. You know the temptation that can follow popularity; that was my temptation too. Thus, when my Bishop, to whom I promised obedience, came up with a contrary plan, honestly, I resented it. It was difficult to obey. The members of the parish where I was weren’t helping matters. When they heard that the Bishop had another plan for me, they secretly called him names and some resented his plan as well. God forgive our ignorance.
However, in retrospect, I can tell you that the Bishop’s plan was indeed God’s plan for my ministry. I found peace only when I accepted that plan and obeyed, thank God. You can hear me on radio, on TV and many other media platforms today evangelizing because I obeyed. It wasn’t easy though, but in the end, it pays off.
Many times, God speaks to us through a chain of commands. Obedience to those would make us truly free, because we will be doing with joy exactly God’s will, fulfilling God’s plan.
Are you struggling with obedience? Ask God for grace so as to learn the redeeming power of obeying God.
God love you. God bless you.