Developing the apostolic spirit

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

ONE clear sign that we are truly Christians is when we have an abiding apostolic concern. It can only mean that we are sharing in the very mission of Christ who came here to save all men. And that’s what being an apostle is. We have to realize then that we all have an apostolic vocation. Yes, everyone is called to be apostle in whatever circumstance he may be in.

Have you ever wondered why Christ appeared to just choose his apostles at random? He would just pass by a certain place, and upon seeing someone, he would just say, “Come, follow me.” And wonder of wonders, the person called would just follow him without any question. In fact, it is said that the person called would just leave everything behind (“relictis omnibus”).

I guess the only plausible answer to that question 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.

We have to process this basic truth of faith about ourselves, channeling and assimilating it into our very consciousness and instincts, because we often take this essential aspect of our identity for granted.

Especially now, with all the absorbing and riveting things around, we tend to forget that we should always have an apostolic concern that we ought to pursue with utmost zeal. Without this apostolic concern, we would be distorting if not betraying our human and Christian identity.

We have to be apostolic because that is how we are by our very nature. With our intelligence and will and all our other faculties, powers and endowments we have, we are meant and enabled to enter into relation with others, with everybody else, in fact.

It should be a relation marked by love, by concern, by desire to help and be helped, to lead and be led to what is our good in all its levels and aspects, until we all reach the ultimate good who is God.

We can always do apostolate in any situation, whether we are working or resting, at home or in the office, doing business or politics, etc. In fact, everything in our life should have an apostolic end. More than that, these situations would lack their real value if they fail to attend to the apostolic possibilities they contain.

Our call to holiness will always involve our duty to be apostolic. Sanctity and apostolate cannot be separated. This is simply because to be with Christ, to be another Christ as we ought to be, we have to be involved in Christ’s continuing work of redemption. Our sanctification cannot be deprived of its apostolic dimension.

We have to realize ever more deeply that to feel this urge to be an apostle and to do apostolate all the time, we have to be vitally united and identified with Christ. We cannot overemphasize the need for us to truly pray and meditate on Christ’s life and teaching so that we can acquire the very mind and heart of Christ, his very desire and spirit.