Fr Stefan reflects on first reading on Obedience and Thought by Raniero Cantalamessa

In the first reading today Peter says, “We must obey God rather than men.” 

One of my favorite author is Raniero Cantalamessa. The first book I picked up was ‘Obedience.’ What does it mean to be obedient to God. This passage still speak to me 17 years after I read it.

“”But is it still possible and meaningful to talk of obedience to God, after the living will of God, manifest in Christ, has been completely expressed and objectified in a series of laws and hierarchies? Is it permissible to think that, after all this, there are still ‘free’ expressions of God’s will be to accepted and fulfilled? If it were not so, nothing new would have flourished in the Church in these twenty centuries. We however, can see that they have been filled with new things: new institutions, new vocations, new ways of loving. Monachism, for example, came from obedience to the Gospel. One day Anthony went into a church in Alexandria in Egypt and heard the following being proclaimed: ‘Go and sell all that you have, give it to the poor and then follow me.’ He took these words of the Gospel to be an order which God was addressing directly to him at that moment and he became a monk. The Francisan Order aslso arose from a similar obedience to the Gospel. One day, at the beginning of his conversion Francis of Assisi entered a church and heard the priest proclaiming the Gospel words: ‘Take nothing for the journey, neither staff, nor bread, nor money, and do not have a spare tunic.'(LK 9:3) He, too, felt this to be a command addressed personally to him by God at that moment and he exclaimed: ‘This I want, this I ask, this I wish to do with all my heart’ and thus began his new way of life. St Francis himself said in his testament that his order was born in that moment. ‘After the the Lord had given me friars – he wrote- but the same most high Lord revealed to me that I should live according to the Holy Gospel.’ If the living will of God could be captured and thoroughly and definitely expressed in a series of laws, norms and institutions, in an ‘order’ instituted and defined once and for all, the Church would end up in paralysed. the rediscovery of the importance of obedience to God is a natural consequence of the rediscovery, stated by Vatican Council II, of the charismatic and spiritual dimension of the Church and the the supremacy of the word of God in the Church.”

One the gifts that the charismatic movement has brought to the Church is the realization at Jesus is Lord. The Church does not belong to you and me. Jesus is Lord of the Church. Let us give Jesus the freedom to act in His Church.


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