“Happy are we if we do the deeds of which we have heard and sung. Our hearing them means having them planted in us, while our doing them shows that the seed has borne fruit” – St. Augustine
When I was younger, in my teens, and not as attentive (indifferent) to chores around the house, I found it unpleasant whenever I heard a voice (mom) yelling from the kitchen door asking me to finish a task around the house. It seemed burdensome and boring to scrub the toilet or wash the dishes. Sometimes I wouldn’t get around to it. This created a not so peaceful atmosphere around the house resulting in creative ways of piling up bowls on top of cups or pretending that bathroom hairs were lava just to avoid stepping on them. It wasn’t fun for anyone.
If the servants at the wedding feast at Cana had not responded promptly to Mary’s request, “do what ever he tells you”, the first miracle of Jesus’ ministry might have been delayed and the enjoyment of fine wine could have had to wait. When a mother speaks we listen! It is not until we are far grown and parents ourselves or put in a position of child care that we realize the importance of attentive responses. We know that if we ask a child to pick up his toys it is not because we want him to do senseless work. The function of the act is for the end goal of safety, responsibility, and order. But the child does not see those reasons, he learns to respond obediently and at times blindly; a blindness that leans heavily on trust. The child knows that picking up the toys is good yet at times does not understand why he has to pick them up but obediently responds.
The underlying motive for obedience to a parents word begins to mold itself in love. The more a child experiences love from his parent, the more the guards are put down and submission is rendered. A relationship built on love and selflessness begins to break the barrier. It can produce trust and with trust it bears the fruit of charity freely given. Chores although undesired turn into acts of love, the ulterior motive, which is charity, becomes the engine behind its completion.
Where is this going?
Grace! It is the one gift given us as a source of strength in our obedience to God. Grace! it is the life of Christ in us. Grace! it is our means of a faithful response to the Father’s invitation to life. Do we know why He sometimes asks us to let go of a loved one who has deceased? Do we understand why He sometimes seeks our charity when we feel we can’t give it? Do we perceive the urgency in His desire for our holiness?
We do not understand the invitations God makes and that is why we at times hesitate to respond. Our blind response is one of the most fearful acts we have ever experienced. His grace is given but if we do not recognize it, we don’t open our heart to receive it. Just as a child learns to act out of love when growing in relationship with his parent, we too, grow in our relationship with Jesus and prayerfully begin to approach the discernment of his invitations. Love is the driving force for all that we do. Love is what allows us to reflect the Sons obedience to the Father. “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will” Matthew 26:39. The Father loved the Son who loved the Father, the fruit of this was perfect in every way. Selflessness. The Trinitarian delight was present for us to witness and in awe it is what allows us to spring forward with trust in our response.
There is a depth that can be had with learning what we were meant to do on earth. We are gifted by God, and are expected to use those unique gifts when responding to his voice. Sometimes He asks us to wash the filth from our heart with the waters of Baptism, to clean out our soul with the use of reconciliation, to sweep up our deeds with the broom of virtue. When He asks us to clean house, we do not delay or say “maybe later, Jesus”.
Do we dismiss our duty as followers of Christ and hang up the apron of holiness simply because we’ve had enough? Time will be spent and life will be molded. Things will have to wait, and others given up all together. What we want most in life might have to be laid down for what we need even more. Life on earth will need to seize and life in Christ will take its place. “What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” Matthew 16.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples,
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it . . .
Or what can one give in exchange for his life?
For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory,
and then he will repay all according to his conduct.” Matthew 16
Hear his voice and “do what ever he tells you”.