Obedience, in regard to Benedictine spirituality, is about listening with the “ear” of your heart to God, self, and others. The Old Testament reads, “Sacrifice and offerings you do not want, but ears open to obedience you gave me… To do your will is my delight; my God, your law is in my heart” (Psalm 40:7-9). In the New Testament, this is repeated with Jesus in his Incarnation, but with a twist: “Sacrifice and offering you do not desire, but a body you prepared for me” (Hebrews 10:5). God gave us his word and opened our “ears” through the life of his only son, Jesus Christ, to be the example of true worship.
The Greek philosopher Plato pondered the question of what would become of a perfectly just person in this world. He concluded that such a person would be crucified. Jesus responded to James and John’s request for seats in the Kingdom by saying: “…the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and give his life as ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
So is obedience to be understood as worship and worship to be understood as sacrifice?
The answer is yes, obedience is worship and yes, worship is to be understood as sacrifice… spiritually. Pope Benedict XVI recognizes obedience—living within and on the basis of God’s word—as the right way to worship God. So here the idea of spiritual sacrifice, or “sacrifice in the manner of the word,” was formulated: prayer, the self-opening of the human spirit to God, is true worship.
The meaning of obedience is found in the Cross. Through Jesus’ prayerful ministry to the masses during his life, his prayerful demeanor during the Passion, and the prayerful fulfillment of God’s kingdom in his resurrection, he showed us how to listen to God, to others, and to ourselves. The common thread is prayer; nothing more and nothing less than open, honest, two-way communication from the depths of our hearts.
In the Gospels we hear how Mary, the Mother of God took all these things into her heart. Simply put, she prayed. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (aka: Mother Teresa) looked to the Cross to live her life through prayer. For me, it’s tough, but I’m trying. I fail at times, but try to learn. I pray so that I may strengthen my faith with God. I pray so I can better hear in my heart the true path God wants me to follow. I pray so that I may truly help those I come across in my daily life. I pray so that I can understand my true needs and break the chains of burden that keep me down. I pray; I listen whole-heartedly; I accept, no matter the outcome… at least I try. That is what God truly wants from me and for me, from each of us and for each of us. This is true worship. This is being obedient to God.
… God Bless…
[my next blog: Benedictine Spirituality from a Lay Person: Chastity (part 3 of 7)]
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