In today’s Gospel, Our Lord teaches us an important lesson about obedience. Christ tells us He does not speak on His own. He speaks what the Father commanded. The Son is obedient to the Father.
To whom are we obedient? Some like to believe they are obedient to no one. They are their own authority. They answer to no one and take direction from no one. This is a popular attitude among children, atheists, and fools, but most people grow out of it about the time they learn to distinguish fantasy from reality.
Are we obedient to the state? To some degree, yes. We obey laws; we pay our taxes. In so doing we participate in the common good. This isn’t the same sort of obedience, though. Doing something for our own good and for the good of others is different from pledging loyalty to the state no matter what.
I remember once seeing a sign that said, “My country, right or wrong.” That sort of blind allegiance to the state is dangerous and foolish. The state is a human institution and a human creation. As such, it can be wrong. It frequently is. Blindly and slavishly following the state can easily lead to disaster. It has in the past; it will again.
Are we obedient to our employer or our commanding officer? Again, there is a proper obedience owed to such an authority figure, but this is very different from holy obedience. We should all be very aware that the excuse “I was just following orders” does not absolve us of the guilt of our own actions.
Are we obedient within our families? This rises much closer to the sort of obedience that Christ exhibits. In the family, ideally at least, each should be working for the good of the other without consideration for his own gain. This can, of course, go astray – we are all fallen human beings. But the ideal is that those within the family show holy obedience and love as is appropriate to his or her position within the family.
Are we obedient to God as Christ is obedient to God? We should be, but we are not. If we were, we would be saints. Let us pray always for the grace to be perfectly obedient to God according to the model Christ gives us, for only then will we truly know perfect love.