By Fr. Roy Cimagala
THEY are supposed to go together always. The universal call to holiness is also a call to do apostolate. Said in another way, to be holy or to be a saint is also to be an apostle. The quest for sanctity and the duty to do apostolate actually have a mutual relationship. We can only be truly holy when we are apostolic. And we can only be apostolic when are holy in the first place.
In the Gospel of St. Mark (6,7-13), when Christ summoned his 12 apostles to send them in pairs to different places and gave them authority over unclean spirits, we are reminded that we too are all called to be apostles, to be missionaries, having the same desire and mission of Christ.
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 need to process this truth of our faith so we can start to conform our life to it. Truth is we have to learn to talk about God with everyone and in every situation. Obviously, we have to do this properly, that is, in ways that are respectful of our human nature and condition, weakened as it is by sin.
Let’s never forget that the best way to drive people away from God and from religion in general is when we bring the topic of God and the spiritual, moral and supernatural realities in an inappropriate way.
We have to learn to adapt and attune ourselves to the concrete conditions of persons, taken individually and collectively. In this, God himself has shown us the way. He made a long preparation before the coming of his son.
And when the time came, what is known as the fullness of time, the son became man and went through the whole process of adapting himself to the human condition, and this pursued all the way to the cross.
We have to learn to be very patient and creative in carrying out this duty to do apostolate. We have to be ready to be misunderstood and humiliated, and yet we ought to persevere, preaching in season and out of season, like what St. Paul once said.
We have to understand that everyone, by virtue of his sheer humanity and much more, his Christianity, is called to be a missionary, and that he does not need to go to distant lands because his immediate environment already needs a more effective, down-to-earth evangelization.
Yes, even the ordinary guy in an office, the farmer, the businessman, the politician, the entertainers, artists and athletes, are called to be missionaries. That’s simply because as persons with a prominently social dimension in our life, we have to be responsible for one another.