O'DRISCOLL: Obedience requires humility and trust

September 14, 2021

Photo by James Ramos/Herald

“Look both ways before you cross the street.”

“Eat your vegetables.”

“Clean your room.”

“Do your homework.”

Many of us have heard these commands either said to us or to someone else. It is safe to believe that the person saying these commands is saying them out of love.
Obedience is a word that carries with it a certain level of formality and requires an incredible amount of humility.

This is why obedience can be so difficult for the human person regardless of their age; it forces the person to recognize that they are in need of guidance throughout their lives, despite their stage in life.

A young child needs the repetition of these commands and the patient reinforcement to obey. An older adolescent, who is in the midst of discovering who they are and who they are meant to be, may find obedience restricting and still be very much in need of patient reinforcement to obey. An adult out in the world may think of obedience as something that would restrain them from complete freedom and still needs patient reinforcement to obey.

Many Catholics have felt that some of the teachings of the Church are hard to follow, difficult to embrace, and therefore not worth their obedience.

The reality of it all is that obedience provides for us the freedom we seek. It allows us to discover who we are, to make decisions that empower us to stand in the truth, and to place our trust in God’s will for our lives and for His kingdom. Obedience is the key to growing in holiness and finding true peace and freedom.

St. John Bosco once said: “Be obedient, and you will become a saint.”

Do you want to be a saint? Do your daily life and choices reflect a complete trust in God’s will for you? Do you work at obeying God’s commands? Do you aim at discerning God’s will for you and your life?

Saints are not expected to be perfect, rather they are invited to be faithful, and when we take St. John Bosco’s advice seriously, saints are asked to be obedient. When we exercise obedience in our lives, God uses that to help us grow in trust, faith, and love.

Trust is key in any relationship, and most definitely, trust is the key to establishing a healthy and loving relationship with God. When we look at Adam and Eve and their choice to eat the fruit (Gen 3), it is evident trust was replaced by doubt, and doubt led to the choice to disobey.

When we choose to obey God’s command, no matter how difficult it may seem at the time, our trust in the Lord increases, our relationship with Him deepens, and our relationship with our neighbor improves.

Obeying encourages trust.

As for faith, the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that “to obey in faith is to submit freely to the word that has been heard because its truth is guaranteed by God, who is Truth itself.” (CCC, 144)

Love is the visible fruit that blooms from the relationship the disciple has with Jesus Christ. Our Lord and Savior is the perfect witness of obedience. He trusted, he remained faithful, and ultimately, he loved us through everything he said and did.

In prayer, spend time looking at Jesus Christ on a crucifix and ponder how his obedience has given you freedom and life. It is here, through the love Jesus Christ showed us on Good Friday, that the disciple can see how obedience to the will of God and His commands lead us to an increase of trust, faith and love. Is this not freedom?

Next time you find yourself resisting obeying God’s will for you and your life, take a moment to bring it to prayer. Allow yourself the time to consider how trusting God could lead you to freedom. Finally, remember that everything that God asks of us is out of love. Everything that God demands from us is for love.

Obedience to his guidance and commands is a response rooted in love and leads to true freedom. 

Annette O’Driscoll is the director of Evangelization and Catechesis at St. Edward Catholic Church.