Order - Obedience
"Order is to have a place for everything and everything in its
place." Most people have probably heard this old adage, or some
variation, whether as a toddler being led to the toy chest or as a
teenager sent back to clear a cluttered bedroom. And most of us
would agree with the wisdom it contains as we struggle to keep a
desk or a den reasonably tidy. ORDER in the realm of external things
is restful as well as helpful. St. Thomas Aquinas goes so far as to
say that Peace is the tranquility of ORDER.
But beyond neat work
spaces and well-organized cupboards, there is need for ORDER in the
realm of the spirit, ORDER which touches on the divine. When God
created the universe, He made ORDER out of chaos. Everything DID
have a place in God's plan and, before sin arrived on the scene,
everything WAS in its right place, offering the Creator praise and
homage by its simply being in that divinely ordained good ORDER.
The great disorder which is sin disrupts the serene unfolding of
God's plan for creation, especially for the human family. But God,
the great Maker of good ORDER, would not allow His creation to fall
into ruin. In His mercy, He sent His Only Begotten Son to redeem the
human race and to show it the path to take to reach its ultimate
Jesus taught the lessons of divine ORDER in simple, tangible
terms: the two great commandments, the one thing necessary. He told
us what to seek first and emphasized the need to give to God what is
God's. The whole of our Lord's earthly life was a continual act of
homage to His Father and the unfolding of His divinely ordered plan
for salvation. Christ's OBEDIENCE, even unto death, showed so
clearly the value He placed on submitting to God's good ordering of
things, not out of servile constraint but out of filial love.
St. Francis of Assisi had an intuitive grasp of the need for
good ORDER in the spiritual life. Enlighten the darkness of my
heart; he prayed at the beginning of his conversion, that I may
carry out Your holy and true command. And as his life drew to a
close, he prayed. May we be able to follow in the footprints of Your
beloved Son and, by Your grace alone, may we make our way to You.
In between, the Little Poor Man offered a radiant witness of what
happens when someone strives for good interior ORDER through the
practice of an OBEDIENCE rooted in faith and freedom.
By seeking first the kingdom of God, Francis made the happy
discovery that everything else he needed really was given as well.
Observing the two great commandments — love of God and love of
neighbor — gave him a reliable standard by which to measure his
words and actions. Choosing, again and again, the one thing
necessary kept the right ORDER in his spiritual life. Rendering to
God what was His empowered Francis to remind the rulers of the world
that OBEDIENCE to God's law ensures well-ordered earthly rule.
Not all the saints had perfectly ordered desks. But they all
understood the need for ORDER in their spiritual lives, an
founded on and supported by faith-filled OBEDIENCE to the divine law
of love. Their example encourages us on our path to holiness (the
ultimate "GOOD ORDER") and strengthens our faith in the simple truth
that the Maker of the heavens' span / who all things splendidly
adorned / shall lead us by His ordered plan / to joy eternal, life's
reward. (Pre-6th century hymn)