Robert B. The 7 words 110
St. Gregory skilfully shows what is necessary to the perfection of obedience in different circumstances. He says: "Sometimes we may receive agreeable, at other times disagreeable commands. It is of the greatest importance to remember that in some circumstances, if anything of self-love creeps into our obedience, our obedience is null; in other circumstances our obedience is less virtuous in proportion as there is less self- sacrifice. For example: a religious is placed in some honourable post, is appointed Superior of a monastery; now if he undertakes this office through the mere human motive of liking it, he will be altogether wanting in obedience. That man is not directed by obedience, who in undertaking agreeable duties is the slave of his own ambition. Again, a religious receives some humiliating order, if, for example, when his self-love urges him to aspire to superiority he is ordered to fulfil some office to which neither distinction nor dignity is attached, he will lessen the merit of his obedience in proportion as he fails in forcing his will to desire the post, because unwillingly and by constraint he obeys in a matter which he considers unworthy of his talents or his experience. Obedience invariably loses some of its perfection if the desire for lowly and humble occupations does not in some manner or another accompany the forced obligation of undertaking them. In commands, therefore, which are repugnant to nature, there must be some self-sacrifice, and in commands which are agreeable to nature there must be no self-love. In the former case obedience will be the more meritorious the closer it is united to the Divine will by desires; in the latter case obedience will be the more perfect the more it is separated from any longing for worldly renown. We shall better understand the different marks of true obedience by considering the actions of two saints who are now in Heaven. (Ex 3). When Moses was pasturing sheep in the desert, he was called by the Lord, Who spoke to him through the mouth of an Angel from the burning bush, to command the Jewish people in their exodus from the land of Egypt. In his humility Moses hesitated about accepting so glorious a command. 'I beseech Thee, Lord,' he said, 'I am not eloquent from yesterday and the day before, and since Thou hast spoken to Thy servant I have more impediment and slowness of tongue.' (Ex 4,10). He wished to decline the office himself, and begged that it might be given to another. 'I beseech Thee, Lord, send Whom Thou wilt send.' (Ex 4,13). Behold! he urges his want of eloquence as an excuse to the Author and Giver of speech, to be exonerated from an employment which was honourable and authoritative. St. Paul, as he tells the Galatians, (Ga 2,2) was Divinely admonished to go up to Jerusalem. On his journey he meets the Prophet Agabus, and learns from him what he will have to suffer in Jerusalem. 'Agabus, when he was come to us, took Paul's girdle, and binding his own feet and hands he said: Thus saith the Holy Ghost: The man whose girdle this is, the Jews shall bind in this manner in Jerusalem, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.' (Ac 21,11). Whereupon St. Paul immediately answered, 'I am ready not only to be bound, but to die also in Jerusalem for the Name of the Lord Jesus.' (Ac 21,13). Undaunted by the revelation he received of the sufferings in store for him, he proceeded to Jerusalem. He really longed to suffer, yet as a man he must have felt some dread; but this very dread was overcome, and rendered him more courageous. Self-love, then did not find a place in the honourable duty which was imposed upon Moses, because he had to overcome himself in order to assume the command of the Jewish people. Voluntarily did St. Paul set out to meet adversity. He was aware of the persecutions which awaited him, and his fervour made him long for still heavier crosses. The one wished to decline the renown and glory of being the leader of a nation, even when God visibly called him; the other was prepared and willing to embrace hardships and tribulations for the love of God. With the example of these two saints before us, we must resolve, if we desire to obtain the perfection of obedience, to allow the will of our Superior only to impose honourable employments upon us, and to force our own will to embrace difficult and humiliating offices." Thus far St. Gregory. Christ our Lord, the Master of all, had previously approved by His conduct the doctrine which St. Gregory here lays down. When He knew the people were coming to take Him away by force and make Him their King, "He fled into the mountains Himself alone." (Jn 6,15). But when He knew that the Jews and soldiers with Judas at their head were coming to make Him a prisoner and to crucify Him, according to the command which He had received from His Father, He willingly went forth to meet them, and allowed Himself to be captured and bound. Christ, therefore, our good Master, has given us an example of the perfection of obedience, not by His preaching and words only, but by His deeds and in truth. He reverenced His Father by an obedience which was founded on suffering and humiliations. The Passion of Christ exhibits the most brilliant example of the most exalted and ennobling of virtues. It is a model which they should ever have before their eyes, who have been called by God to aspire to the perfection of obedience and the imitation of Christ.
Robert B. The 7 words 110