Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Be Submissive?!

Stained Glass of St. Lambert
Saint Meinrad Archabbey Church
Readings for Wednesday, October 27:
Ephesians 6:1-9
Psalm 145:10-14
Luke 13:22-30

Today's first readings shows us the continuation of Saint Paul's challenging message yesterday - be submissive to others, make yourself a servant. Here applied to children and slaves, the message takes on a different feel when we begin to look at what it is asking. Often when we think about obedience and submission, there is something in us that can naturally rebel against the idea. During my time in seminary, I have heard on several occasions from priests that we at first think that celibacy is the hardest part of the priestly life, but then you make your promise of obedience and realize that celibacy is easy in comparison. This is so because we often think that we are right or we know the better way to do things, and sometimes we do! But the thing is that ultimately, we ought to submit to those in authority over us as if they were the Lord. 

The Letter to the Ephesians says, "but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, willingly serving the Lord and not men, knowing that each will be requited from the Lord". The RSV translation is a bit more clear: "not in the way of eye-service, as men-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to men..." The slaves were told by Saint Paul to work not for men but for God. Their labor and sufferings were to be endured out of love for the Lord. And this is what we are each called to do - to submit ourselves to others out of love for God, not the pleasure of men. Whether it comes in the form of relatives or friends, co-workers or even strangers, it is beneficial to our soul to submit. And if it is a real struggle, simply remind yourself of the One for Whom you are doing it with the little prayer "All for the love of Jesus Christ."

As I was reflecting on this passage, I couldn't help but recall this image of St. Lambert kneeling before the crucifix. This image is in the Archabbey Church in St. Meinrad, Indiana, where I spent six weeks discerning monastic life. I was always struck by this image because of the story that accompanies it. Saint Lambert was a bishop and was traveling at one point and came along this Benedictine monastery. One of the leaders of the community told him to kneel before the crucifix until the monk came back, unaware that he was the bishop of the diocese and had authority over the monks of the abbey. Hours later he returned and there knelt Lambert, kneeling as he had been told, despite the fact that he was actually the superior; so great was his love for Jesus Christ and desire to be obedient to Him. How beautiful the world would be if we all had such great humility!