Fishing in the Sea of the Passion: Loving Obedience

Go fishing for the jewels and pearls of all the virtues in the depth of the sea of the Passion of Christ...
— St. Paul of the Cross

St. Paul of the Cross founded the first retreat of the Passionist Congregation on Monte Argentario, overlooking the sea. As he developed his spiritual teaching through letters of direction, he often drew of images of the sea to explain his ideas, and especially referred to Christ’s Passion as a sea of suffering and love from which we can draw out all the virtues.

As today we recall the many events of Holy Thursday, one virtue which particularly stands out is the loving obedience of Jesus to the will of His Father.

May the will of God be done, may the Lord be forever blessed. I wish neither more nor less than the will and the good pleasure of God, whether in time or in eternity; I can will only that which my God wills.
— St. Paul of the Cross
Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
— Luke 22:42 (RSV)

When the Lord entered the Garden of Gethsemane to pray with His disciples following the Last Supper, He left us the ultimate model of surrender to the Father’s will. The cross looming before His eyes, His human nature recoiled from that bitter chalice of suffering, yet His filial love of the Father led Him to pray only that His Father’s will be accomplished and His glory might be made manifest. This is no stoic repression of feelings - Jesus truly felt the agony of this moment and yet love made Him desire to offer Himself in the ultimate sacrifice. His obedience, from the moment of His Incarnation, has always been marked by the love of a son, not by the fear of a slave.

How can I develop a spirit of loving obedience to God?

When some suffering or challenge comes my way, do I think of it as permitted by my loving Father?

Do I call upon the strength of the Lord when the task at hand seems overwhelming?

Are there any experiences in my life which were difficult at the time but, in hindsight, were occasions of growth and grace?

Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will!