”My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish His work.” (Jn 4:34)
“Like Jesus whose mission it was to do the Will of the Father, we express our love most convincingly in a life of total surrender to God by our vow of obedience.” Jesus, our model of the vows of chastity and poverty, is also our model of obedience. He became an obedient servant to his Father until the end: “Jesus… humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him…” (Phil 2:8). His boundless obedience and confidence toward His Father are the expressions of his deep relationship with his Father. From the first moment of his Incarnation the Son embraces the Father’s plan of divine salvation in his redemptive mission: “My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work (Jn 4:34)”. The desire to embrace his Father’s plan of redeeming love inspired Jesus’ whole life .
Jesus’ obedience, as shown in the Gospels, was put to the test and was accompanied by an inner struggle, loneliness, misunderstanding, betrayal, abandonment, doubt, fear, suffering and the cross. By His life and death, Jesus teaches us that obedience to God and the road to true freedom is marked by difficulty and struggle because it means doing the will of the Father, rather than carrying out one’s own will. We also strive to live obedience in such way that it would become more than just the surrender of one’s own will. We want it instead to be a constant embracing of the will of the Father, and obedience to Him in ever greater freedom. ”This life of obedience is a process of attaining interior freedom through a dying to self and the willing assent to God’s design for us.” Our vow of obedience is a participation in the mission of Christ. ”It is He who inspires our obedience in order that the divine plan of salvation be completed through us.” Our obedience is doing what Jesus did and as He would do today in our particular situation. “When religious obey, they offer this obedience along with the obedience of Jesus for the salvation of the world. This is why everything which, in the exercise of authority or obedience, indicates a compromise, a diplomatic solution, the consequence of pressure, or any other kind of temporizing, is opposed to the basic inspiration of religious obedience, which is to align oneself with the mission of Jesus and to carry it out in time, even if such an undertaking is difficult.”
For us, as Nazareth sisters, the Holy Family is an icon of obedience. We identify ourselves with Jesus’ “yes” to the will of the Father: “Then I said, ‘As it is written of me in the scroll, Behold, I come to do your will, O God’” (Heb 10:7). We listen to Mary’s Fiat: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). We imitate Saint Joseph in his readiness to fulfill God’s plan in his life: “Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt” (Mt 2:14). Also, like Jesus, Mary and Joseph, we want to fulfill God’s saving plan in our life. We take the example from our Mother Foundress, who herself teaches us obedience which she learned looking to the Holy Family of Nazareth: “Everything became lost to my sight, except our Lord Jesus Christ in Nazareth with His Holy Mother and Saint Joseph. Thereto I proceeded; my gaze is fixed thereon. I entreat my Divine Master to support me firmly, vigorously, so that I will not turn aside, but keep my eyes upon God and upon His sacred will in my regard and concerning this work of His.”
Way of Love, Ratio Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth