Excerpt 15
Heart of Jesus, Obedient Unto Death

EVERY sin is an act of disobedience; it is the following of one's own will in opposition to the will of God. The proper atonement for disobedience is obedience, and the Sacred Heart of Jesus has rendered it by becoming obedient unto death. "Just as by the disobedience of the one man the many were constituted sinners, so by the obedience of the one many will be constituted just" (Rom. 5:19). The whole life of Jesus is a long drawn-out act of obedience.

Life's First Moment

It is the common teaching of theologians that the soul of Christ had the perfect use of reason from the very first moment of its existence. The soul of Christ in the very moment of its creation beheld the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the Beatific Vision, and its Own exaltation through the hypostatic union with the Person of the Divine Word. It fully realized the purpose of this union, namely, to give to the world a Saviour Who would be God and Man at the same time. The thoughts and sentiments of Jesus in that moment were foretold by the prophet, and St. Paul quotes the words of the psalmist in his Epistle to the Hebrews, "Sacrifice and oblation Thou wouldst not, but Thou hast fitted a body to Me.  . . . Then said I, Behold, I come . . . to do Thy will, O God" (Hebr. 10:5 ff.). The first act of the Saviour is an act of obedience and this obedient attitude never changes throughout His life.

Hidden From the World

Every event and circumstance in the life of Jesus was preordained by the Father, and Jesus took them precisely as manifestations of His Father's will, which He had come to fulfill. So He welcomed His birth at Bethlehem amid circumstances which must have been extremely painful to His holy Mother and because of His Mother also to Him. Yet, He gave expression to the joy of His heart in the hymn of the Angels which announced His life's program as He had accepted it, "Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth among men of good will" (Lk. 2:14).

Unintelligible from the human point of view is the fact that the Saviour of the world, the Giver and Restorer of life, must flee to Egypt to save His Own life. But the Father had sent the message to Joseph, "Arise, and take the Child and His mother and flee into Egypt, and remain there until I tell thee" (Mt. 2:13). Jesus asked no question; He obeyed.

Jesus spent the greater part of His life at Nazareth, a small and insignificant village. The Evangelist characterizes this period of our Saviour's life by these simple words, "And He went down with them to Nazareth and was subject to them" (Lk. 2:51). A few words, but an eternity of thought and reflection will not exhaust their depth. God subject to men, the Creator to the creature, the All-wise to persons limited in their wisdom and judgment, even though they were the holiest persons on earth. And all this for a period of time far exceeding the length of time men remain under parental authority. But Jesus had come to do His Father's will and He obeyed.

In the Sight of the People

During the three years of His public life Jesus went about the country doing good, preaching, healing the sick, casting out devils, raising the dead to life. By His wisdom and power He astounded the people and by the charm of His manners He attracted them, so that they would flock to Him in crowds. But the spirit that animated Him in this work was the spirit of obedience to the will of the Father. He said to the Samaritan woman, "My food is to do the will of Him Who sent Me to accomplish His work" (Jn. 4:34).

Obedience made Him go after the lost sheep and associate with sinners, repulsive as sin must have been to Him, the Holy One. The Pharisees were scandalized, but Jesus told them: "I came down from Heaven, not to do My Own will, but the will of Him Who sent Me. Now this is the will of Him Who sent Me that I should lose nothing of what He has given Me, but that I should raise it up on the last day" (Jn. 6: 38 f.). And again, "It is not the healthy who need a physician, but they who are sick. I have not come to call the just, but sinners to repentance" (Lk. 5: 32). The Father's will is that all men should be saved.

In Suffering and Death

The most painful tests of obedience were reserved for the end of our Saviour's life. At the Last Supper, as He was about to begin His Passion, He told the Apostles why He must suffer: "That the world may know that I love the Father, and that I do as the Father has commanded Me" (Jn. 14:31). About two hours later He bore the terrible agony. His human nature shuddered and shrank from the terrors of the Passion. Bathed in bloody perspiration He lay on His face and cried to His heavenly Father, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass away from Me; yet, not as I will but as Thou willest" (Mt. 26:39). It was the Father's will that this cup of suffering should not pass away, but that He should drink it to its very dregs. Therefore Jesus forbade the fiery Peter to resort to violence in order to defend Him, "Put up thy sword into the scabbard. Shall I not drink the cup, that the Father has given Me?" (Jn. 18:11.) Obedient to the will of the Father He allowed Himself to be betrayed, put in chains, scourged, crowned with thorns, nailed to the Cross, and He persevered in the pain and agony of the Cross until all was consummated. Then only did He bow His head and die.
Thus Jesus atoned by His obedience for the disobedience of sin. Disobedience is forgetfulness of God, self-exaltation, refusal to serve; obedience is forgetfulness of self, self-immolation, loving service. In this lies the atoning power of obedience, its greatness and glory. It does the will of God, which is infinitely wise and powerful and loving and holy. Nothing could be more perfect, more blissful, more meritorious, nothing stronger and more powerful. Therefore the obedient man shall always speak of victory, even though it be victory through death. In a time of the most widespread self-exaltation and rebellion against the authority of God, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, obedient unto death, shows us the way to a truly great, fruitful, holy life on earth and to the exaltation of the children of God in life everlasting.



HOME-------------------------------------CATHOLIC CLASSICS