My Spiritual Theology class I took just last semester made me realize that prayer leads us to listen to God, not merely to converse with Him. Hence, the essential link between prayer and obedience.
If this is so, I whispered to myself, I can give a leeway to those who are perceived to be ‘stubborn.’ To those who skip the meditation and the Mass, those who answer back to superiors, those who do not do the duties expected of them. Maybe they are not ‘obstinate’ as what people think of them, they are not horrible monsters to be set aside nor to be avoided completely.
They simply have not found God yet.
Years ago, before I became a Salesian, or perhaps even the first few years when I already am one—okay, even up to now—I view obedience as a mere compliance, in order to smoothen the running of the house and to iron out the difficulties in the community. I think these are still valid reasons why a religious have to obey.
The opposite will lead a congregation to disarray.
But I cautioned myself that in the future, these reasons may no longer suffice. Insofar as this is a human way of looking at the situation. For a professional religious, who is supposed to be attuned to the movement of the Spirit, the God factor ought to be paramount. Hence, the necessity to search for Him so that one may know His will.
However, as regards the issue on obedience, I realized that God only constitutes half of the equation for He bestowed on us the precious gift of freedom. Hence, our inputs figure as well. God values our contribution. In the person of Jesus, the second Person of the Trinity, we find the epitome of how it is to be free, and at the same time, obedient to the will of the Father. He remains to be our model.
This is especially true when I am challenged to get out of my comfort zone, and I find it difficult to flex my will in order to heed this invitation due to my laxity, or my stubbornness or to my failure to see God in that occasion.
Hence, the key to obedience is to make God more present in my life. So that when that difficult moment comes to visit me, perhaps, I will not be able to come up with ‘yes’ at once, but with Him on my side, I will be able to prepare myself to welcome it since He has prepared me to see that He is just nearby, and I do not have any reason to be afraid of.