Aug. 7, 2015 Friday: 18th Week in Ordinary Time
The Conditions of Discipleship
I do not know if you hear this already. An unknown author said something about what a Christian is all about. This is what he said:
A Christian… is a mind through which Christ thinks.
is a heart through which Christ lives.
is a voice through which Christ speaks.
is a hand through which Christ helps.
In today’s gospel Jesus says: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow,” (v. 24). In these words of Jesus, therefore, following Him is a serious matter. It is because this gospel passage speaks about God’s plan for us which is to live our life fully for Him. But how do we live our life fully?
Bishop Soc Villegas in his homily book, Love Like Jesus (pp. 66-67) gave us how: first islive fully. To live fully means, being heroic. It means being ready to go the extra mile even if the law does not require it. Every Christian is called to be a hero. Every Christian is called to be generous. Every Christian is called to go all the way without hesitation all the time. That is the key to heroism. These are the keys to sanctity: generosity, living life to the full, celebrate with life. It is not forbidden for us to celebrate life. We must enjoy life, this life given to us by God.
Second, Bishop Villegas said is,love deeply. He said that we say we love with the heart. Some of us blurt out statements like: “I don’t love her anymore” or “I don’t love him anymore”. Actually, what we mean is “I don’t feel the joy and pleasure of loving anymore. When the Lord says to us that we must love deeply, the Lord is telling us to go deeper than the heart, to go deeper than the feelings. Examining the structure of our body and going deeper than the heart means going the guts. Deeper than the heart, lies our sikmura. In fact, in oriental religions, the focus of the body, the core of the body is not the heart but the guts. It is the core. It is the sikmura and it is the kalooban. When the Lord asks us to love deeply, the Lord is asking us to love more than feeling, to love with our guts, to love with our sikmura, even if that should go empty. But we know that it is only in loving deeply we can also live fully.
And finally, Bishop Villegas said that the last one is we must let go cheerfully. He said that we must carry our crosses cheerfully. The Lord is asking us to be happy, not necessarily to be merry all the time. To be merry is to sing and dance and to smile all the time and to crack jokes and yet, we can still be happy. We can still be joyful because of the Lord in our hearts. Let us never ever doubt that we are the most precious creation of God. Because of all the places that God can choose to dwell, God has chosen us to be His dwelling place.
And so, as somebody had said, Christianity without the cross would be only another revival movement. Someone said it is the cross that reveals to us that our goodness is not good enough. Faith in Christ is not intended to improve us, to put the finishing touches to our self-image, but to make us a new creation (2Cor 5:17). We become a new creation, not by improving our performance, but by coming to the end of it. We are called to die to ourselves. In a sense we are called to fail, but that failure is better than any success. This was the pattern of Jesus’ life, and will therefore be the pattern of his disciples’ lives too.
-Fr. Joseph Benitez