Obedience and Procrastination

A priest once addressed a group of young children. “Do all the things God wants you to do every day. You will please Him, and you won’t have time to do anything bad!”

That idea has always fascinated me. Only recently have I found the full truth of it. If we are obedient, we don’t even have time for nothing.

Procrastination

First, procrastination is different from prioritization. To prioritize is to put the most important things first. Of course that’s a great help in the growth of virtue.

To procrastinate, on the other hand, is to choose something, anything–even nothing!–over the right thing. Procrastination (literally “for tomorrow”) puts off for later what we could and should do now. When we procrastinate, we give into the fear that, if we always do what we should, we’ll never have “me-time”, our precious nothing!

We tell ourselves, “The good you will always have with you. But when will you have the chance to enjoy nothing again? If you always do what you should, there will always be the next thing. And once that’s done, there’s something else. On, and on, and on…”

Obedience

To be obedient is to always do the right thing. That means right away. No “no’s” or “later’s”. Just “Yes, ma’am!” and “Right away, sir!”

Sometimes we must be obedient to a person (our parents, our commanders, our superiors). Other times we are called by God to be obedient to circumstances. What are circumstances?

When we wake up in the morning, we know we should get out of bed. We know we should get dressed. We know we should make our beds. We know we should get ready for work or get the kids ready for school. These are the circumstances of our lives: we have beds, we have clothes, we have work, we have children. To be obedient, we must do our duties according to those circumstances.

Looking at it rationally, we know what is good at every moment. We know we want the good at every moment. But sometimes, it’s so hard to do it! Sometimes we want disobedience, the perception that, for the moment, even doing nothing is better than doing the good.

The good

St. Joseph

In the Gospels, we have many examples of obedience. St. Joseph has stuck out to me recently. We don’t hear much of the foster father of Jesus, but he is prominent in the beginning of the Gospel of St. Matthew. He follows many commands of the angel: take Mary into your home; take the child and his mother and flee into Egypt; return to Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead; go make a home for yourselves in Nazareth.

These examples are all big moments of obedience. But we know that for virtues to shine in big ways, they must first be polished in small ways. St. Joseph was obedient throughout his life to the circumstances in which God placed him. In caring for the Holy Family, being guide, father, and guard of Jesus and Mary, his every act of obedience was for the happiness and safety of the two most blessed humans who ever lived. Even the smallest matters of his obedience were glorious!

We must remember that our every act of obedience is also glorious. In doing the smallest things with great love, we please God more than we can fathom. When we accept every circumstance as His love, He will reward us as He rewarded St. Joseph; He will grant us the joy of closeness to Jesus and Mary in this life, and happiness with Him forever in the next.

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