The third degree of humility is that a person for love of God submit himself to his Superior in all obedience, imitating the Lord, of whom the Apostle says, “He became obedient even unto death.”
Today’s Epistle reading (for the Mass of Sexagesima) seems to me to resonate with the passage from the Holy Rule. Here we have St. Paul again as a model of humility, “obedient even unto death.” In today’s pericope from 2 Corinthians St. Paul tells us of all that he suffered at the hands of his secular superiors. Could he not have avoided the floggings, the imprisonments, and other things that befell him? Even if he couldn’t have avoided them, couldn’t he have resented them, given into murmuring at the injustices foisted upon him? After all, wasn’t he doing the Lord’s will? Yet we see here implicitly (and in other epistles, explicity) that he believed in obeying authority because all authority comes from the Lord. Yet not only for this reason. What moved him, surely, was the desire to imitate the Son of Man: “It is not I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” This obedience lead him to death.
St. Paul took on the sweet and light yoke of Christ. Is his fate what we imagine when we think about taking on the yoke? If it isn’t, then surely his example (as well as that of countless martyrs) should wake us from our complacency. While perhaps such a gorey fate is not in store for us, martyrdom always is. Perhaps my martyrdom, as a father and husband living in the world, is one of daily, silent witness. Is it not in those small, daily mortifications – those small “deaths” – that I give witness to Our Lord? Am I obedient to my legitimate superiors: to my manager, to my government, to my ecclesiastic authority? Or do I only obey when it is convenient or when their commands coincide with my understanding/fancy (obviously immoral commands aren’t to be obeyed)?