Obedience means, literally, ‘to put oneself in the way of hearing’, ob meaning ‘in the way of’. These words, ‘obey’, ‘obedience’ have virtually the same semantic make-up as the Greek words they translate in today’s reading, represented by hypakouo. The preposition hypo- means ‘under’ and so ‘in submission to’ and akouo = ‘I hear’ (cf ‘acoustic’). The key notion, then, in both the Greek words and the Latin words from which the English words are derived is of an obligation to hear in order that one can comply with what is said. One cannot ‘obey’ if one does not hear or listen.
St Paul stresses the importance of hearing when, in Romans 10:17, he tells his readers that “faith comes by hearing”.