Ephesians Day 15 // The Definition of Obedience

Ephesians 6:1-9 Luke 2:41-52

The idea of completely submitting ourselves to someone or something else usually fills us with a sense of dread or disgust. Or worse, it gets perverted and used as part of an addiction to pleasure. Submitting ourselves to God, however, is a completely different thing. God isn’t an evil dictator, or a judge who will keep a record of wrongs and constantly bring them up, or someone who keeps you down because he wants what’s best for you. God is merciful, forgiving, and elevates us by His grace. By surrendering ourselves to Him, He paradoxically brings out the best in us.

If the idea of obedience still scares you, know that God has actually set a good example of obedience in the form of the Holy Family. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph completely surrendered their lives to God, and Jesus spent his hidden life obedient to His parents.

Of course, that didn’t mean that their life was always perfect. Keep in mind that shortly after Jesus was born, the family had to hide in Egypt for a few years until Herod the Great’s death. And then, around the time that Jesus was twelve years old, Mary and Joseph lost him. I can’t even begin to imagine their fear and anxiety. Danielle Rose perfectly captures this in her song “The Finding,” which tells today’s passage from Luke’s Gospel in Joseph’s point of view.

What I love most about the finding of the Child Jesus was that even though Mary and Joseph had all these questions, Jesus ultimately decided to go home with them.

The Holy Family is a devotion that made an impact on me when I volunteered at a retreat one spring. At the time, I was nursing a broken heart and couldn’t really talk about it because I didn’t want to ruin the retreat by whining about my problems. If anyone could understand a broken heart, it was Mary. In spite of the pain I had, my prayers to Mary and Joseph gave me the strength to carry on. There were times during the retreat that I felt left out or invisible and I wanted to cry or get angry or just leave and go home.

But I didn’t. Instead, I prayed. Whenever I asked for the intercession of Joseph, that prayer was quickly answered with an action or a sense of consolation. Prayers to Mary helped when I woke up restless in the mornings and needed some peace.

I had small periods of consolation throughout the weekend in between the heartbreak and the interior struggles. I cherished my time in Adoration and found great joy in celebrating Mass. But the best consolation came from making new friends and rekindling some old friendships. I was reminded why I love serving retreats: I help people in the process of growing, giving them the same experience I received as a retreatant. In surrendering myself the way Mary and Joseph did, I ended up having a great retreat experience.

Today, I challenge you to completely surrender yourself to Christ. One way to do that is by praying a Jesuit prayer called the “Suscipe,” which says:

Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding and my whole will. All that I am and all that I possess, Thou hast given me: I surrender it all to Thee to be disposed of according to Thy will. Give me only Thy love and Thy grace; with these I will be rich enough and will desire nothing more. Amen.

I guarantee you that your life will never be the same.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, pray for us!

Study Questions:

  1. What are your perspectives on obedience?

  2. Which part of the Finding of the Child Jesus did you relate to the most?