19 March 2008. Holy Wednesday
Matthew 26, 14-25 As Jesus had Ordered Them
The Passover is a feast that lasted a week and a day. Jerusalem was jammed with pilgrims. Jerusalem’s population was around 30,000 but during the feast it was calculated to grow to 130,000. Reservations have to be made and so Jesus asked the disciples to reserve a room for them. Matthew emphasizes the obedience of the disciples by saying that they moved, “as Jesus had ordered them.” Their response to their Master’s voice was immediate. Their obedience and submission to their Master’s will was genuine.
Obedience has a corresponding freedom. Freedom from what? From our burdensome need to have our own way. From our obsession to demand from people to do the things we want to be done, do follow the process or way we want it done. We consume our energies to make sure that we get the result the way we want it. And if things doesn’t turn out our way, we brood about it. We fuss about it. We agonize thinking about it. Eventualy, venting our anger at those people who didn’t follow our directions — even if our directions were fuzzy and unclear.
Obedience frees us from that burden. It asks us to drop it and forget about it. It makes us move on. Most of things in our life are not as important as we think they are. Honestly, no one dies if everything did not turn out the way we expected. Our life will not end if they happened or didn’t happen. Many fights among organizations for example happen because they can’t give in to another — like traffic. Obedience enables us to see whether we are fighting a genuine issue or we are just plain stubborn. We realize that there are few genuine issues, and the rest are not as serious. Our life would not be burdensome when we know what to be serious about, and what could be taken lightly.
Let’s take a similar situation in contemporary life as the disciples. When your mom asked you to wash the dishes, and you complained and insisted why you should NOT wash the dishes, you have spent a lot of energy being stubborn, than when you just followed. Washing the dishes is not a national issue, neither is it a matter of life and death nor a conscience issue.
However, we do not obey for the sake of obedience. We obey because obedience protects a virtue: the virtue of respect and consideration of others. When we submit our will, we recognize that God speaks through other people as well. This is the essense of openness and dialogue: listening what other people say. They too can think about a better way to go about things. And when they know that their voices are heard, they are empowered. Obedience builds up people; it also builds a community.