Fr. Campbell, “Him only shall you serve” (Mt.4:10)
On this First Sunday in Lent we hear of Jesus going into the desert to fast and pray, so to strengthen Himself for His mission in this world, for which He was sent by the Father. He would never fail in His obedience to His Father’s will, for, as He said,
“I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me” (Jn.6:38).
The Father and the Son, together with the Holy Ghost, always act in perfect unity:
“Amen, amen, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of himself, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever he does, this the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows him all that he himself does” (Jn.5:19,20).
In His human nature it was necessary for the Son of God to learn the ways of obedience. As a child Jesus was taught obedience by His Mother Mary, and St. Joseph, His legal father. Mary was far superior to Joseph in every way. No other human being could come close to the Blessed Virgin Mary in holiness, wisdom, or intelligence, yet Joseph remained head of the Holy Family, observing the order ordained by God from the beginning, and Mary remained the obedient and devoted wife of Joseph.
Our Lord had to learn through suffering, the obedience He would need as He sacrificed His life upon the Cross for our salvation:
“For Jesus, in the days of his earthly life, with a loud cry and tears, offered prayers and supplications to him who was able to save him from death, and was heard because of his reverent submission. And he, Son though he was, learned obedience from the things that he suffered; and when perfected, he became to all who obey him the cause of eternal salvation, called by God a high priest according to the order of Melchisedech” (Heb.5:7-10).
We are also called to be perfect in obedience, just as Our Lord was. In the world God created, all things must be in obedience to God’s established order. Children must obey parents, wives their husbands, workers their employers, subjects of all kinds their superiors. Everyone owes obedience ultimately to God, and order prevails when He is obeyed. Yet today the human race says, like the devil himself, “Non serviam,” “I will not serve.”
Most of us have no idea how destructive disobedience is. Disobedience was the sin of Lucifer and the fallen angels. Lucifer’s cry, his affront to God was, “I will not serve.” In disobeying God and listening to the devil’s words instead, Adam and Eve lost for themselves, and for us, their descendants, Sanctifying Grace and the other special gifts they originally had.
We are about to see the ultimate consequences of disobedience. The world is in a state of total rebellion against God, and is now on its way to total chaos, because only in observing God’s plan for our salvation can order be preserved.
The world is like a building that has lost its foundation, and is about to crumble into ruin. It has rejected its cornerstone, Jesus Christ, who has a stern and sobering message for those who disobey Him. He addresses the Pharisees:
“Did you never read in the Scriptures, ‘The stone which the builders rejected, has become the corner stone; by the Lord this has been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes?’ Therefore I say to you, that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and will be given to a people yielding its fruits. And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but upon whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder” (Mt. 21:42-44).
We must listen well to His warnings:
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me, he shall be cast outside as the branch and wither; and they shall gather them up and cast them into the fire, and they shall burn” (Jn.15:5,6).
Obedience is the foundation stone of earthly civilization. Disobedience is its destruction. We must by all means be like the obedient Christ. If children are not taught to be obedient when they are very young, it is all the more difficult as they grow older. We see all around us the sad consequences of the neglect of parental duties. Human society is in a state of total rebellion against God and His Holy Commandments, and is about to experience the consequences.
“Have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who though he was by nature God, did not consider being equal to God a thing to be clung to, but emptied himself, taking the nature of a slave and being made like unto men. And appearing in the form of man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even to death on a cross. Therefore God also has exalted him and has bestowed upon him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven, on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father” (Phil.2:5-11).
Obedience is what restores us to our unity with God, and Our Lord will restore our whole world when He returns as King: “For heaven indeed must receive him until the times of the restoration of all things…” (Acts 3:21).
“For it has pleased God the Father that in him all his fullness should dwell, and that through him he should reconcile to himself all things, whether on the earth or in the heavens, making peace through the blood of his cross” (Col.1:19,20).