Great Reflection from The Word Among Us

The Importance of Obedience

I did indeed obey the Lord. (1 Samuel 15:20)

Poor King Saul! Until Samuel confronted him, he had no idea he had disobeyed God. As far as he was concerned, he had just wiped out a formidable enemy, as God had instructed. He just hadn’t gotten around to dealing with their king yet. Surely that was a minor omission. He had even improved on God’s commandment: instead of destroying all the livestock, he had set aside the choicest animals to offer as a sacrifice. Was that really such a bad thing?

Sometimes what God asks of us is very clear. We gladly carry out most of it, except for one minor detail. We work through our painful memories until we can forgive everyone who hurt us—except one person. We’re willing to extend the kiss of peace to anyone at Mass—except that man whom you saw at the mall walking arm in arm with another man.

It’s also tempting to add to God’s simple commands and then impose our additions on other people. For instance, in situations where we’re tempted to swear, we may decide to refrain from speaking at all, even when our strong reaction might provide a holy perspective.

Today begins the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Are there ways in which we are tempted to add to or take away from what God requires for the sake of unity? Maybe we go beyond what God commands, insisting that everyone adopt every detail of Catholic worship or Church governance. We forget that multiple perspectives can provide a fuller picture and that God is honored in many ways. Or do we seek unity at the expense of the fundamental truths of the gospel, minimizing the importance of any belief or practice that seems to divide us?

St. Augustine shows us a path to unity that is both simple and challenging: “In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”

Knowing that Jesus, the Bridegroom, is dwelling with all of his people, let’s ask him to show us the way forward. Let’s seek out those “fresh wineskins” that can bear his potent love to a world longing for hope and meaning (Mark 2:22).

“Jesus, you urgently desire for all of your people to be one. Show us how we can cooperate with this great work of yours.”

Daily Reflection from The Word Among Us (


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