"Enter through the narrow gate;for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction,and those who enter through it are many.How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life.And those who find it are few."
Obedience- the antidote to Relativism
These days, you will frequently hear people say that everything is relative. In some cases, this may be true, such as when a person falls in love with another person. He or she may find qualities in the other person that nobody else can see, and that is for him to cherish. But modern man would extend this even further as to say that “There is no objective right or objective wrong.” After all, if there is no absolute truth, no absolute morality, anything goes. This is exactly the antithesis of what the Catholic Church teaches. As the Holy Father once said, “Truth cannot be decided by a majority vote.” Morality is not decided by numbers.
This is why the Church is consistently mocked and derided today. For her steadfastness to the truth, the Church is showered with ridicule. When the Holy Father affirmed that condoms can never the solve the AIDS problem in Africa, he was pronouncing the truth that the Church has always maintained, and the truth which science can verify. But relativists do not believe this. For them, the Church is just a backward institution that is behind the times. However, the fruits of relativism clearly show that it is gravely flawed. Because of it, we have mothers legally killing their children, and children legally killing their parents. The line that draws what is morally right from what is morally wrong is always being shifted around, for the convenience of personal opinion.
This week, we celebrate the lives of great saints who firmly believed that truth is not up for a vote. St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, two great English Martyrs, refused to budge as so many of their fellow countrymen did, when King Henry VIII of England sought to divorce his wife, Queen Catherine of Aragon. You see, he was besotted with the Queen’s maid, Anne Boleyn. Anne, who refused to be just another one of the King’s mistresses, refused the King until he offers her a betrothal ring. Moreover, Queen Catherine, while she bore him a daughter, had still not given Henry a boy to be the heir to the throne. So the King wanted to divorce his wife. But Rome spoke, and Rome said no. Jesus had said, “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” Failing to acquire a divorce or an annulment, King Henry VIII finally broke away from Rome, divorced Queen Catherine, married Anne Boleyn, and declared himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England. But St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More would have none of it. When they refused to acknowledge the King’s authority over spiritual matters, they were accused of high treason and were sentenced to die by beheading. They remained steadfast to the Faith and they paid dearly for it. Those who were one of the few men to keep their heads were the first ones to lose it.
These two men, faithful to the Church, show us Legionaries the way to fight back against relativism. That is with perfect obedience to the Church, perfect obedience to the One God. For obedience implies that there is an ideal that we all aspire to. We know that there is Him and only Him. Obedience presupposes that we are obeying Someone, and that this Someone has set firmly the line that marks what is right and what is wrong. There is an absolute standard. Our standard is Jesus Christ—The Way, The Truth, and The Life. The Legion handbook says that the Legionary is measured not by the greatness of his works or by the vastness of his knowledge, but by his obedience to the Legion system—nothing more and nothing less. We are called to this heroic docility, to die to our own pride.
Let us go back to the Story of the Fall. What was the original sin? Disobedience. Adam and Eve, seduced by Satan, disobeyed God’s command. By that, they were taken out of God’s presence, and would pass on this original sin to us all. But when Jesus came, he reversed everything that Adam did and became the New Adam. As Adam was born of the virgin earth, Jesus was born of a Virgin mother. Jesus also went through all stages of life, so that whatever was fallen in our natures because of Adam’s sin, was made new in Christ. Mary also reversed what Eve did—while Eve was seduced by the serpent, Mary was seduced by the Words of the Angel. Eve’s No to God was countered with Mary’s Yes. There’s a tradition in the Church that the tree from which the cross of Jesus was made, came from the seed of the Tree of Life in the Garden Eden. When Adam lay dying, he begged his son Seth to go to the Archangel Michael and beg for a seed from the Tree of Life. As he died, the seed was placed in Adam's mouth and was buried with him. The seed grew into a tree and emerged from his mouth. Tradition also holds that the place where Jesus was crucified, Golgotha, the Place of the Skull, was the burial place of Adam and Eve. Out of disobedience, Adam and Eve plucked the apple from the tree and Man fell. But out of obedience, perfect and complete obedience, Jesus hung himself onto a cross, and Man was redeemed.
Let us be reminded of this when our courage seems to fail us and we find it hard to do our allocated works and duties. St. Thomas Aquinas said, “Obedience unites us so closely to God that in a way transforms us into Him, so that we have no other will but His. If obedience is lacking, even prayer cannot be pleasing to God.”
Let us pray then that we may always model our lives according to Our Lord and Our Lady, that we may always be obedient to God, to the promptings of His Holy Spirit, so that we may have all the courage we need to resist the temptations from the devil.
“The Devil doesn’t fear austerity but holy obedience.” – St. Francis de Sales