Saturday, November 1, 2008

Whoever gives up his or her own point of view to follow Jesus...becomes a person capable of facing anything

The title words above are a quote from page 144 of vol I of Is it Possible, and they are followed by these words: "The Bible uses different words: 'Vir obediens loquetur victoriam'" (Proverbs 21:28, presumably from the Vulgate, the Latin translation which the Church uses).

Have you looked up this verse in Proverbs? Here's the New Jerusalem Bible: "The false witness will perish, but no one who knows how to listen will ever be silenced." And here is the Douay Rheims Bible, which is based on the Vulgate: "A lying witness shall perish: an obedient man shall speak of victory. " From what I know of Latin, to listen and to obey have the same root (are they the same word?) As can be seen, Fr. Giussani only cites the second part of the proverb.

And what is obedience? To listen, to meditate on so as to understand, and to imitate. It is an apprenticeship. But in Christianity, obedience is an apprenticeship within the Church where we strive together to help each other better listen, understand, and imitate Jesus Christ — the meaning of life who is with us now.

This is the rosary, for example. To listen to the events of Jesus's life, to ponder them with Mary — the witness of His life, and to imitate His attitude in the midst of those daily things which impinge upon us and that we tend to regard as distractions. Jesus bore His cross, so I accept the burdens of life even when the circumstances seem to be terminal. The circumstances are not terminal but are what's given to us so that we can discover the attitude of Christ before them. The events of Jesus's life are the carnal dimension of the Our Father: thy will be done.

Like the five passages of faith (p 57), obedience consists first in paying attention to something in front of us and second responding to it. Imitation completes the listening. It's the reason for listening and the fruit of the listening. Obedience is the change that comes from encountering the exceptional presence. It is the human, free act of embracing the Father's will.

Concretely, what does obedience mean? It means that I begin to live according to an extraordinary measure instead of the common one. It means that a new affection, a new attitude lives in me and revives me. It means that one day I start paying attention to what I eat. It means that I start to see what needs to be done around the house and start to do it. It means that I look at Karen or the children with a tenderness that is beyond me.

As the Spiritual Exercises taught us: "This Is the Victory That Conquers the World, Our Faith." The bells above a sign, a reminder, of the voice we listen to and follow.

1 comment:

Sharon Mollerus said...

This is rich. The change is the miracle.