A commitment is not a straitjacket

By: Fr. Roy Cimagala

FAR from straitjacketing or stereotyping us, entering into a commitment would simply show that we are so driven with love and a deep sense of freedom that we are willing to take on whatever consequences our commitment would make on us.

We are human with a soul that is spiritual but with a body that is material. While our spiritual self orients us to the infinite and to an endless range of possibilities, our material self puts us under so many conditions and specifications. In a sense, a commitment concretizes the spiritual in us.

We have to learn how to blend these two fundamental qualities of our being, because we can neither be purely spiritual nor purely material. We have to be both. Our spiritual self needs to be materialized, while our material self needs to be spiritualized.

And entering into a commitment simply puts the spiritual and infinity-oriented character of our love and freedom into the material conditions and specifications of our life. A commitment is our love and freedom expressed in a concrete and specific way. It makes our love and freedom avoid being fuzzy. Rather, it makes them clear.

While a commitment has its costs, requirements and obligations, we would be willing to meet and assume them precisely because of love and our sense of freedom. A commitment shows our level of maturity. When we enter into a commitment, we know what we are giving up in order to gain something much better than what we give up.

A commitment reflects what Christ once said about a certain detachment that is necessary to be with him. “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple,” he said. (Lk 14,26)

We have to understand what Christ really meant by “hate” here. To be sure, it does not mean that we hate anyone in the usual way we understand the word “hate.” Let’s remember that we are commanded to love everyone, including the enemies.

Rather to “hate” here means to be detached from anyone, no matter how close he is to us, who can sort of compete with our love for God. Nothing and no one should stand in the way of our love for God, knowing that by loving God fully, we also would know how to loveeverybody else properly.

A commitment will always involve some sacrifices, somegiving up. This happens when a man marries a woman. He marries herbecause he loves her, but when he already marries her, he is committedto love her till death, with a love that, since it involves the body,is exclusive.

By marrying he knows that he has to raise a family, andtherefore should be ready to take on the pertinent responsibilitiesthat will require a lot of sacrifice.

The same when a man enters the priesthood. He submitshimself to the requirements of celibacy, poverty and obedience, makinghimself as available as he can to the assignments given him by hisbishop and the spiritual needs of the people.

A man with a good sense of commitment knows that even if hehas a concrete way of doing things, he is not envious of how othersare with their own way of doing things. Neither does he feel superioror inferior to them because of their different lifestyle.

A commitment to a vocation provides one with a specific pathto reach his ultimate goal, which is to be with God in heaven. Oneknows that his commitment to a vocation is one path among many othersthat can bring us to heaven. We just have to respect each other andtry to figure out how we can mutually help each other.

Email: roycimagala@gmail.com