Obedience is a key aspect of the Christian Life, according to the preacher of the Pontifical Household, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa.
His discussion of obedience came March 16, 2018, in his fourth Lenten homily, attended by Pope Francis and others in the Vatican.
“Obedience to God is like ‘the center thread that comes down’ that supports a spider’s beautiful web hanging on a hedge, Fr. Cantalamessa explained. “Descending from the top by this thread it produces, the spider constructs a web that is perfect and taut at every corner. Once the spider’s work is finished, this center thread used to construct the web is not removed but remains in place. In fact, the center thread is what holds together all of the spider’s weaving; without it everything collapses. If one of the lateral threads breaks (I tested this once), the spider rushes to quickly repair his web, but if that center thread from on high is broken, then the spider moves on because nothing more can be done.”
The preacher called this obedience the “fundamental” obedience, from which other forms of obedience flow, include obedience to civil authorities. He noted that “obedience fills all of Jesus’ life”. This was true not only in his willingness to die, but in every aspect of his existence.
“The greatness of Jesus’ obedience is objectively measured ‘by the things he suffered’ and subjectively by the love and freedom with which he obeyed,” Father pointed out. “Filial obedience is exemplified to the highest degree in him.”
For the Christian, obedience is practical and necessary, according to Fr. Cantalamessa. It comes with the grace of baptism and it less about “subjugation” and more about imitating Christ. He went on to describe the way obedience occurs:
“Obedience to God generally happens this way. God suddenly flashes something in your mind or your heart about his will for you: it is an ‘inspiration’ that usually comes from a word from God you heard or read in prayer. You feel yourself ‘challenged’ by that word and that inspiration. You feel that God is ‘asking’ something new from you, and you say ‘yes.’ If it involves a decision that would have practical consequences, you cannot act solely on the basis of your inspiration. You need to put your call in the hands of your superiors or of those who have spiritual authority over you in some way, believing that if it is from God he will make it known to his representatives.”
Father concluded by reminding listeners that “obedience to God is the obedience we can always practice.” And while demanding orders from civil authorities typically occur only a few times in a life, God offers many occasions for obedience.