A Christian is always an apostle

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

WE need to realize this more widely and deeply. If we want to follow Christ, if we truly consider ourselves as real Christians and not Christians in name only, we have to be like Christ, holy and with the burning desire to save all men. Thus, we ought to make sanctity and apostolate the most important, ultimate and abiding goal of our life.

We are reminded of this truth about ourselves on the feast of St. Andrew, the Apostle (November 30), where Christ simply would pass by some men and then tell them to follow him. (cfr. Mt 4,18-22) And, wonder of wonders, the persons called would just follow him too without asking any question, willing to leave everything behind.

I guess the only plausible explanation for that phenomenon is that Christ had all the right to do so, and the person called also had the duty to respond accordingly, because, in the final analysis, all of us are actually meant to be an apostle. That is to say, to be some kind of ambassador, a representative of Christ on earth.

At bottom, the answer is because we are supposed to be like Christ, another Christ, if not Christ himself (“alter Christus,” and even “ipse Christus”). All of us are patterned after Christ, and so we cannot avoid being involved in the mission of Christ which is the salvation of all mankind. Obviously, this business of making ourselves like Christ, involved in apostolic work, would require a process and would involve several stages.

But we have to realize that we are all meant to be apostles of Christ with the lifelong concern for doing apostolate, taking advantage of all the occasions and situations in life. Vatican II spells it out very clearly. “The Christian vocation is by its very nature a vocation to the apostolate.” (Apostolicam actuositatem, 2) So, anyone who wants to be truly consistent with his Christian identity and calling should realize ever deeply that he is called to help others get closer to God. This is what apostolate is all about.

This duty actually springs first of all from our nature. We are not only individual persons. We are also social beings. Our sociability is not an optional feature. It is part of our essence, violating which would be equivalent to violating our very own nature.

We can never live alone. We need to be with others. And more, we need to care for one another. We have to be responsible for one another. And while this caring and loving starts with the most immediate material human needs like food, clothing, etc., it has to go all the way to the spiritual and more important needs of ours.

That’s why we need to practice affection, compassion, understanding, patience and mercy with everyone. We have to understand though that all these can only take place if they spring and tend towards God, “the source of all good things” for us.

We need to be familiar with this Christian duty. We have to do apostolate, and we need to see to it that the zeal for it is always nourished, stoked and fanned to its most intense degree.

We just have to be trusting of God’s will and ways, no matter how hard and impossible they may appear to us, and that we have to develop an apostolic concern that is universal in scope, unafraid of the sacrifices involved.

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