Chapter 9 – Obedience and Subjection
Obedience and Subjection
IX Obedience and Subjection (click to download pdf)
I have now come to a chapter, my dear reader, which, for us, is of as great importance as any of the others that we have so far gone through in The Following of Christ. Do you know the virtue which so pleases our Saviour, and which He teaches us so beautifully and expressly by His own example? It is the virtue of obedience. Jesus “humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross.”
I will not say anything now about the obedience and subjection one must practise in religious life, that is, living as a Brother or Sister consecrated to God in a monastery or convent. You are yet too young to know what God may call you to in the future. But so much you ought to know and remember even now: wherever you are, whether you are young or old, whatever station of life you may embrace to serve God in, you will be subject to authority, more or less, as long as you live, and always have the chance and the duty to practise this beautiful virtue of obedience.
Begin right away, in earnest. First, there are your parents, your older brothers and sisters. Be prompt in your obedience? Whenever father or mother calls you, let everything else be dropped immediately, and go. Do not let them call you twice. If they tell you to do a thing—now, I am supposing that what they tell you to do is always right—do it right off, and do it well, not in too great a hurry and only half. If they tell you to stay away from a certain place, or to avoid the company of a certain person, then obey them punctually. Let no one prevail on you to go in the least against the commands or even the wishes of your parents, however much he or she may pretend to be your good friend. Next to God, you have no better benefactors on earth than your parents. You must first listen to them and obey them, before you listen to and obey anybody else.
A boy once, coaxed by a companion, took a ride on the cars, against the expressed will of his mother. She was very much grieved. She corrected him for his fault, and then she punished him as he deserved. The boy always remembered that—not so much how his mother had punished him, as that he had grieved here by his disobedience. He often thought of it in his after-life, and he was sorry for it as often.
You should also obey your older brothers and sisters. Suppose you should try to represent to yourself, as often as your brother or sister asks you to do anything, that it is Jesus Himself who is asking you. Wouldn’t you find it easier to do it?
Your obedience must be willing. Many children obey only after putting on long, sour faces, and after much pouting; and even while they are doing what they have been told to do, or leaving off what they are told not to do, they are dissatisfied inwardly, they complain to themselves and grumble. “Many are under obedience,” says Thomas à Kempis, “more out of necessity than charity, and such have suffering, and are apt to murmur.” Do you see? Such obedience is worth nothing in the eyes of God. Therefore, put away all sour faces, and pouting lips; instead, put on smiles and pleasantness, for Jesus’ sake.
I will not say anything about obedience and subjection in school, and toward spiritual superiors. A child needs only to practise obedience faithfully at home, and I am confident, obedience in school, and wherever else it may be required, will come of itself.
Also, you must not stick to your own notions or opinions so lightly. Some children are thus. They will hold fast to their own opinion and not give in to anybody. Such children, generally, cause a good deal of disturbance and trouble at home by their stubbornness and self-will. Give your opinion; say what you think you have a right to say, and then be done with it. To dispute long with others for every little thing is unpleasant for them as well as for yourself, and ill becomes a little follower of Jesus.
There are many people who cannot find peace nor rest. They always have trouble with somebody. They think, if they could go somewhere else, perhaps out into the wilderness, where they would be alone by themselves, and nobody to disturb them—then they would live in peace. A great mistake! It is not places or persons that will give you peace: your own heart must give it to you. Exchange your self=will for the humility and obedience of Jesus and you will have peace and quiet in your heart everywhere and at all times. Do not forget this, my child. “If God is amongst us, “ says the Following of Christ, “we must needs sometimes give up our own opinion for the blessing of peace.”