By Fr. Roy Cimagala
IN that part of the gospel where Christ talks about making war in order to have peace and about considering those who love father and mother more than him as not worthy of him (cfr. Mt 10,34-11,1), we are actually reminded that we really have to love God first and always if we want to love everybody and everything else properly.
God is a God of love. That is his very nature which he wants to share with us since we are his image and likeness, sharers of his life and nature. But given our wounded human nature, there is now some need for making war, for doing some struggle, if we want to love properly or to share the very nature of the love of God.
That is why when Christ was asked what the greatest commandment of God was, he unhesitatingly said that it is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Mt 22,37) It is this giving our all to God that comprises what true love is. And so doing, we actually receive from God a lot more than what we give him.
Of course, we need to have a strong faith to believe in this truth about what true love is. We have to be wary of our tendency to rely more on our own human estimation of things that only give us a narrow, superficial if not erroneous view of things.
Thus, we need to discipline ourselves, or using the words of Christ, we need to enter by the narrow gate. Given our wounded and sinful condition here on earth, Christ suggests that we choose to enter by the narrow gate. (cfr. Lk 13,22-30) That’s simply because we are very prone to get spoiled by the good things in the world and to develop undue attachments that detach us from God who is our everything in life.
Entering by the narrow gate also corrects our tendency to be presumptuous of God’s mercy without giving due consideration to divine justice and retribution. That’s why, Christ also told us that to follow him, we ought to deny ourselves and carry the cross. (cfr. Mt 16,24)
It does this even while it also helps us from avoiding falling into the opposite predicament, which is despair. In other words, it helps us develop a true, correct and delicate conscience, not a lax nor a scrupulous one.
We should make some kind of working plan for us to follow this indication of Christ. This concern should be attended to with deliberate effort. We should not take it for granted, since we know we are notorious for easily falling into an easy way of life, into a happy-go-lucky kind of lifestyle.
In short, this indication is not meant for us to be a killjoy. It certainly does not prevent us from enjoying the things of this world, as long as we know how to convert the things of this world into a pathway to God, a form of prayer, a way to engage with God in an abiding way.
Thus, we have to be wary of our tendency to be completely taken over by worldly values, like practicality, profitability and the like, which while legitimate can be inimical to us if not inspired by love for God and for others, that is, when they are pursued simply for self-serving interest. We have to be most wary of the new developments in technology, etc., which can easily intoxicate us and take us away from God.