Obedience leads to freedom

By | January 18, 2012

Mr. Webster tells us that the word “bidding” means a demand that something be done, a request to appear, a summons. These are just a bunch of words until the reality strikes as it did for Jonah, St. Paul and the apostles of the Lord.

What Jonah did was obey. His will was centered on God’s design and when the bidding came, he went. For Jonah this meant being true to his identity as a prophet of the Lord.

A prime example of discipleship, of one who responded completely to God’s biddings, was St. Paul. Once he encountered the risen Lord the whole center of his life changed. When reading the writings of St. Paul there is also a sense of urgency, a sense that the time is short and we must not delay in responding to what God asks of us. The warning — “Tomorrow may be too late”— deserves our deep respect. High priority must be given to God’s promptings.

We are not at liberty to neglect the challenge of discerning the biddings of God. Those biddings come through sacraments and Scriptures, through the experiences of everyday life as well as through the inner movements of the heart. The key in knowing what is or is not of God is a sense of peace and joy that indicates the presence of the Spirit.

Though Jonah had a difficult assignment, though Simon and Andrew, James and John had to leave one way of life for another, though St. Paul had to eat humble pie, we sense that in their saying “yes” to God they came to a deeper inner peace and abiding joy. There is no other road to peace and joy than that of obedience, which leads to freedom.

Just as God bids us to come and follow the Lord Jesus, we too bid God to “Teach me your ways O Lord.” This responsorial refrain might be an excellent mantra for the entire week. God is our teacher and it is God’s ways that we desire to know — the ways of compassion, forgiveness and love. That is why repentance and reformation are so necessary. We keep drifting from “the way,” we keep forgetting the lessons that the Gospel so clearly proclaims. “Lord, do teach us your ways.”

Questions for Reflection

1. How does the Lord bid you to serve?

2. Do you find the words “obedience” and “submission” meaningful?

3. How does the Lord teach you his ways?

Bishop Morneau is the auxiliary bishop of the Green Bay Diocese and pastor of Resurrection Parish in Allouez.

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