Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Christian is Obedient to the Obedient One

Therefore, in Christian life obedience is something essential; it is the practical and necessary turning-point in accepting the lordship of Christ.  There can be no lordship in action without man's obedience.  In baptism we accepted a Lord, a Kyrios, but an 'obedient' Lord, one who became Lord precisely because of his obedience (cf. Ph 2:8-11), one whose lordship, so to say, consists in obedience.  Obedience, from this point of view, is not so much subjection as likeness.  To obey such a Lord is to be like him, because he, too, obeyed.  We find a splendid confirmation of the Pauline thought on this point in Peter's First Letter.  The faithful - the Letter tells us at the beginning - 'have been chosen in the foresight of God the Father, to be made holy by the Spirit, obedient to [= in order to obey] Jesus Christ' (1 P 1:2).  Christians were chosen and sanctified 'to obey;' the Christian calling is a call to obedience!  A little further on in the same Letter, the faithful are defined rather suggestively as 'sons of obedience:' 'Do not allow yourselves to be shaped by the passion of your old ignorance, but as obedient children' (tekna hypakoes) (1 P 1:14).  It is not sufficient to translate this expression 'obedient son' (as if we were dealing with a simple hebraism), because here, as the context clearly shows, the reference is to baptism.  'Sons of obedience' which immediately follows in the text (cf. 1P 1:22).  The context is not, therefore, ascetic, but mysteric; the Apostle is talking about 'a new birth from the word of God' (cf. 1 P 1:23).  Christians are children of obedience, because they are born as such from the obedience of Christ and from their own decision to obey Christ.  Like little fish born in water who cannot survive out of water, so Christians, born in obedience, can live spiritually only through obedience, this is, in the state of constant and loving submission to God, in contact with the Paschal Mystery of Christ.  The sacramental link with Christ's obedience does not end, in fact, with baptism, but is daily renewed in the Eucharist.  When celebrating Holy Mass, we recall, - and more than recall - the obedience of Christ unto death.  We put on obedience as a mantle of justice and thus arrayed we present ourselves to the Father as 'children of obedience.'  In receiving the Body and Blood of Christ, we nourish ourselves with his obedience.
from Obedience: The Authority of the Word by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa

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