In today's first reading, Samuel berates Saul for his disobedience to the Lord; he declares that obedience is more pleasing to Yahweh than sacrifices. For some reason, it seems that the notion of "obedience" is odious to our contemporary American culture. A canon lawyer/professor who is a dear friend of our community has a wonderful explanation of this underappreciated virtue. She tells her students that all Christians are called to be obedient -- even if they have not taken a vow of obedience. She continues to challenge their thinking by explaining that all of us are obedient whether we acknowledge it or not; for most of us, she observes, obedience begins with the alarm clock, first thing in the morning.
Obedience comes to us from the Latin verb "to hear/to listen." Whether it be the strident sound of an alarm clock, the request of a neighbor, the instructions of our employer or co-worker, an assignment from our superior, etc., obedience is a matter of listening which transcends the pejorative connotation of "being commanded." Being obedient is a choice -- a choice we make in freedom. We choose to bend our ears and listen to what is asked (or suggested) and then we bend our hearts to respond. Let us ask the Lord for the grace to bend our ears and our hearts to the needs of those around us.
"Here is the general rule of obedience, and I write it in capital letters:
ALL MUST BE DONE THROUGH LOVE, NOTHING THROUGH CONSTRAINT."
St. Francis de Sales