Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Obedience, A Timeless Choice

Hear my teaching, O my people;
incline your ears to the words of my mouth.

I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will declare the mysteries of ancient times.

That which we have heard and known,
and what our forefathers have told us,
we will not hide from their children

We will recount to generations to come
the praiseworthy deeds and the power of the Lord,
and the wonderful works he has done.
Psalm 78:1-4

As I started my day today, I looked out on my balcony and saw the moon and morning stars. I had already read from a portion of St. Benedict's Rule a continuation of his chapter on Obedience: "This very obedience, however, will be acceptable to God and agreeable to people only if compliance with what is commanded is not cringing or sluggish or halfhearted, but free from any grumbling or any reaction of unwillingness."

"Compliance" and "obedience", ancient concepts still used. It seems they bring a negative resonance all to often. It's not what we want to do, most especially when we are told we must be compliant, that our obedience is required. Perhaps we don't use the word obedience very much, but I expect many of us are issued rules, expectations, directives, policies, and regulations so often we simply want to crawl under the desk (or tractor, fishing net, or oil rig) and have the rest of the world deal with it all.

St. Benedict reminds us of our free will, our choice. We will always struggle with both our wanting our own way (read the next 35 verses of Psalm 78 for a vision of human desire in the face of God's gifts) and making a choice to obey.

Obedience by choice, the generations that have said and lived the Psalms, and God's gift of light, or more surely God's gift of our world, remind me (perhaps each us?) how I am in the company of many both here and now, and throughout time, as I struggle to freely choose to be obedient in God's call to me.

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