Every generation in its turn is proud of its accomplishments — proud even to the point of arrogance. Usually we’re a lot more impressed than we ought to be. As we get older, if we are wise like King Solomon, we come to realize that “Nothing new is under the sun.” If we are wise, that is. And that’s a big if.
Rebellion seems to be a reflex of every creature that has free will. We feel we have to resist, refuse, and reject anything that smacks of authority, seniority, or hierarchy.
I used to think it was a mark of my generation, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a perennial problem. More than that: it’s apparently a problem for angels as well. They, too — at least some of them — were so gifted that they couldn’t bear the thought of using their gifts to serve someone else.
They had earned their pride, and their pride made them fools. Satan chose to rule in hell rather than serve in heaven, and he reduced himself to everlasting misery and derision.
In the second half of Lent, it’s good for us to ask: In what parts of life are we rebelling? What are we rebelling against? Are there areas of life where you and I have simply refused to be obedient to legitimate authority?
We Americans have learned somehow to spin disobedience as a virtue. We like to think of it as a kind of independence or rugged individualism. And so we justify our disloyalties and defections. We applaud our own defiance when we cheat on our taxes or scoff at Church doctrines we’ve never bothered to understand.
Our pride makes us fools. We reduce ourselves to comic figures.
Let’s make the most of Holy Week and root out what remains of rebellion in our hearts and minds. Let’s ask God to give us the grace he gave Mary: the grace of obedient intelligence and intelligent obedience.
He loves us too much to deny a prayer like that.
Fr. Ed Benioff is the pastor of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills and the previous Director of the Office of New Evangelization for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
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