The Christian art of detachment

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

IT’S a virtue before it is an art. Detachment that is proper to us is a virtue that comes as a result of the spirit of Christ. And we can only have that spirit if we are open to God’s grace and faithfully follow the consequences and implications of such grace.

We are reminded of this Christian art of detachment in that gospel parable where Christ compared the Kingdom of heaven with a treasure buried in a field and with a pearl of great price for which those concerned were willing to sell and let go of whatever they had in order to get that treasure and that pearl. (cfr. Mt 13,44-46)

The parable tells us, among other things, that we should never be contented with what we may consider as good enough. We should go after what is best and proper to us. The parable message validates the saying, “the good is the enemy of the best.”

It warns us against our tendency to be complacent and contented with what we already have, saying enough to the continuing and endless demands of charity which has God as the primary object, and everyone else, without exception, as a necessary accompaniment.

It also urges us to learn how to be detached from the things of this world even as we are immersed in them. It reminds us that everything in this world should only be a means, an occasion, a reason to love God and everybody else. The things of this world should never be regarded as end in themselves. They are just a pathway to God and to heaven, our definitive homeland.

To be able to live and practice this Christian art of detachment, we definitely need to follow the example of Christ. His detachment can be gleaned from the facts that he never stayed in one place even if the people urged him to stay with them; and while he loved his mother, he was also detached from her; and finally, he was detached from his own life which he gave up willingly and gratuitously for our salvation. All these showed how Christ lived what he preached.

We need to learn this art of detachment little by little, knowing that it definitely will be most demanding and challenging to us. And one way we can do that is by learning how to leave behind our usual daily concerns and worries as we go to bed. Bedtime should be spent exclusively with God in deep prayer, pondering spiritual and supernatural things, imagining how it will be in heaven when we come face to face with God, etc.

We have to learn how to cut off from clingy things like work concerns, videos, social media, etc. Doing so can be heroic and can also be a clear sign that shows where our heart really is.

To be sure, when we manage to live this Christian art of detachment, we will enjoy peace of mind and joy in our heart. We will fulfill what Christ promised: “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for the sake of My name will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.” (Mt 19,29)

Christ is actually giving us the best deal in this life when we learn how to live this art of detachment.