“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” (Mt 11: 28-30)
Jesus is truly the living way. He is asking us to become His disciples, to accept His doctrines. For He truly is meek and humble and accordingly does not wish to impose burdens which we cannot bear ourselves. His yoke is easy and it is not a heavy burden.
Jesus took on the yoke of obedience. He was obedient to the Father, to the Father’s will. This yoke of obedience He bore unto death.
Obedience before all. As Seculars we “promise to tend toward evangelical perfection in the spirit of the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience”. We make this promise not as an end in itself but as a means; therefore, we too should be keeping in mind the end- which is perfection. Obedience is most important in the light of perfection.
When we are under obedience we are not free to do what we wish. We are to set aside our preferences, our tastes, our desires and even those things that repulse us and to consider just one thing – God wills it.
When someone has been legitimately elected as the superior or as the one in authority over us, from the fact that this person accepts, God communicates in an invisible manner His authority to this person. When we obey this person we must keep in mind that it is God who is the end of our obedience and not this person. Therefore, when the superior commands it, it is God who commands.
St. John of the Cross in his Precautions offers some particularly important advice in the matter of obedience in his second counsel against the devil:
“Let the second precaution be that you always look on the superior as though on God, no matter who he happens to be, for he takes God’s place. And note that the devil, humility’s enemy, is a great and crafty meddler in this area. Much profit and gain come from considering the superior in this light, but serious loss and harm lie in not doing so. Watch, therefore, with singular care that you not dwell on your superior’s character, mode of behavior, ability, or any other methods of procedure, for you will so harm yourself as to change your obedience from divine to human, being motivated only by the visible traits of the superior, and not by the invisible God whom you serve through him.
Your obedience is vain and all the more fruitless in the measure that you allow the superior’s unpleasant character to annoy you or his good and pleasing manners to make you happy. For I tell you that by inducing religious to consider these modes of conduct, the devil has ruined a vast number of them in their journey toward perfection. Their acts of obedience are worth little in God’s sight, since they allow these considerations to interfere with obedience.”
Whenever we regard the person who is commanding or judge this person’s acts, or whenever we are looking at the human elements (qualities and defects) we do not have the qualities of obedience.
On a final note, those who are in positions of authority over others ought to show the way. That is, they should only teach. St. Blanc of St. Bonnet says “to govern is to teach others to govern themselves”. The example of obedience Jesus Christ gave us is one always worth pondering.