When my nephew was a young child I remember my sister with equal parts tenderness and tested patience, holding his face with her hands, look him in the eye and say in a steady quiet voice, “I need you to listen, son, and obey.” As with all children, this was not a one-time occurrence. Sometimes there was more tenderness, sometimes less patience, but always great love. I imagine that Jesus began to learn this lesson to “listen and obey” from his own mother: let other children have the first turn; be good for your grandparents; calm down, it is time to pray; wash your hands before dinner; share what you have with those who are in need; don’t wander off in a crowd. Later in life, secure in the knowledge that he was a beloved child of God, Jesus learned to listen more deeply, and obey out love and generosity, ultimately offering the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of his human family.
Peter and the Apostles learned this lesson from Jesus, knowing that the grace, courage and wisdom required would be abundantly poured out by the Holy Spirit in their time of challenge, even in the face of death threats because of their witness for Christ. St. Stanislaus, whose feast we celebrate today, was Bishop of Krakow and martyred in 1079 because he opposed King Boleslaus II’s immoral reign and oppression of his people. Most of us won’t be asked to offer the ultimate sacrifice of a martyr, but each day we are invited to offer our lives with love and generosity to and for the One who loved us first.