By: Rick Hernandez
“…any superior to whom God has given authority over you, stands in the place of God: ‘Whoever listens to you listens to me’ (cf. Lk 10:16). Whenever you perform any deed out of obedience, you are fulfilling God’s will. Direct your obedience to God himself, who is listening. Since you cannot see him, you act out of faith in the authority he has given, which makes your obedience meritorious. Your obedience is not merely to the person who commands, who is nothing more than an instrument, but to the very authority this person wields.” - St. Peter Julian Eymard
Once a cherub of God, Lucifer, the “bearer of light,” was himself “the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty” (Ezekiel 28:12). More perfect than any other created being, Lucifer thought himself wiser than all, and that pride corrupted his wisdom (Ezekiel 28:17). From that corruption, Lucifer rebelled against God, his creator, and the one that had his best interest at heart. Lucifer was disobedient to God, thus becoming Satan (a name that means “Adversary”), and this disobedience cost him Heaven.
“Pride is the commencement of all sin… and the beginning of pride is when a man departs from God.” (Saint Augustine’s commentary on Ecclesiastes 12).
How often do we think that we “know better” when figures of authority (bosses, leaders, parents, priests) tell us to do something? Or when we receive advice? Or when we are admonished? As with Lucifer, we think we know better, but really, how often do we end up with peace from our own machinations and planning? Yet, our worldly wisdom feeds our pride, and our pride feeds our rebelliousness. But God is not asking us for rebelliousness; he is asking us for faithfulness and obedience…
“Obey your leaders and defer to them, for they keep watch over you and will have to give an account, that they may fulfill their task with joy and not with sorrow, for that would be of no advantage to you.” (Hebrews 13:17).
Our leaders are to be just, for they are responsible for us. We have to pray for an increase in humility so that as we grow in wisdom, we can also fend off the arrogance of pride and be good, faithful followers. When we do this, we surrender to our Lord’s Divine Will and His perfect plan for our good.
“The more we see that any action springs not from the motive of obedience, the more evident is it that it is a temptation of the enemy; for when God sends an inspiration, the very first effect of it is to infuse a spirit of docility.” - Teresa of Avila
Today, as the world is embroiled with the coronavirus pandemic, our leaders, both lay and Ecclesial, ask us to make sacrifices and let go of most of our comforts for the good of the whole. We may be tempted to criticize and vent our frustrations instead of lifting up our brethren through our actions and words.
Let’s take a little time today to look inwards towards our intentions and identify our prideful and selfish matters. Let’s pray that we can, with the help of God, remove those imperfections. As Saint Teresa of Avila said, let’s pray for humility and docility. Let’s also pray for our Church, our laypeople, our brothers and sisters in Holy Orders, our deacons, our priests, our bishops, and our Pope. For all of us, in order, have increasing responsibility for the rest of us.
Let’s surrender our will to our Father’s Divine Will, for in that obedience that we owe Him and his Church, He also takes full responsibility for us. For “If we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.” (Romans 6:8). Remember always that “If God is for us, then who is against us?” (Romans 8:31).
Praying for all of us. May our ever-loving Lord grant us His peace. Amen.