by Rev. Robert E. Lucas
Obedience is the keystone of civilization, for it is the mother of order and without order nothing can exist. In tracing the history of civilization from the earliest times, we see shining like threads of gold in the fabric of character development the sterling virtue of obedience.
The story of St. Michael the Archangel reminds us of the reward we receive for being obedient to our superiors and the horrible punishment that will be meted out as a result of our disobedience. The faithful of our Orthodox Catholic Church must recognize immediately that the object of life is to achieve salvation. Just as among the countless numbers of angels there arose those who felt they could have the same glory and power that belong to God alone, many of your faithful try to reach for heights they can never attain. God struck these evil angels from the heavens into hell for all time. This will also be the consequence of our disobedience to Holy Mother Church and our religious society. St. Michael the Archangel was instrumental in triumphing over those evil angels who tried to usurp God’s power unto themselves. Disobedience is never rewarded, but punished.
We readily grant that it is the nature of man to be self-willed, to do what he wants to do; but he must restrain himself, he must bridle his passions. It is important for our Orthodox Catholic faithful to recognize the need for obedience because without a proper and healthy respect for authority, for those that God has placed above us in life, there most certainly would be no order in the world. In time we would even lose respect and refuse obedience to Almighty God Himself. Our Holy Orthodox Catholic Faith could not have endured until the present times if the faithful did not keep their positions of condescending obedience to the will of the Holy Spirit expressed so often through our diocesan bishops. Our faithful have realized the need for obedience to the Church and in reality to Christ, as a necessity for saving their souls.
In order to serve his fellow man, Holy Mother Church, and above all, Almighty God, man must serve as he is instructed to serve, he must obey the rules of life for the betterment of others. It is best to develop the virtue of humility for condescendence to the will of God. Man does not lower himself when he obeys his parents, rather he helps himself overcome some negative trait which he possesses and his parents hope to correct with their admonitions. When Holy Mother Church asks us to comply with her laws, we should respond positively, not because it is the right thing to do, but rather because it is the will of God for us. Christ said: “I will be with you until the end of the world.” This means that the Son of God Himself guides the church in everything she does.
Man can never escape the obligation to obey, for in every walk of life, there is something which we must obey. It is good for us to begin in our youth training our minds to accept obedience to the laws of the Church, the regulations instituted in the diocese by the bishop, the precepts our good priests might pass in their individual parishes as well as the laws of our parents. Even kings must submit to parliaments, the president must submit to congress, the priests to their bishops who in turn humbly fall to their knees in submission to the Holy Father, our gloriously reigning Patriarch. Everyone is bound by laws and must obey them.
How heartening is the inspiring story of obedience in the life of Christ! By coming to earth, He bowed to the will of the Father Who sent Him. Never did He disobey the wishes of the Blessed Mother or His guardian, St. Joseph. In teaching the Apostles and future generations how to speak with His Father, Christ inserted into the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy will be done. . .” In His horrible agony in the Garden of Gethsemane on that first Holy Thursday, He asked that the terrible sufferings be taken away from Him, but he continued to affix to His petition that “...not mine, but Thy will be done.” In dying on the cross, He passed on in humble submission to the will of the Father.
The problem with the world today is the lack of obedience in it. It remains for the faithful of Christ’s Orthodox Catholic Church to launch a front on this problem. It must be attacked and conquered. We must begin by obeying our parents. Our salvation is inexorably bound together with our obedience to the priests and bishops placed over us. As good and pious Orthodox Catholics, strive to live so that your ears may hear the joyfully resounding words of Christ “Well done thou good and faithful servant, enter into the kingdom prepared for you since the beginning of the world.”
Christ said: “I will be with you until the end of the world”
Publication of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America