By Fr. Roy Cimagala
IT’S intriguing to note that Christ would just appoint as his apostles practically anyone. It would look like his choice was done purely at random. He would even choose someone who would betray him. And many times, he would scold his apostles for their lack of faith and understanding. And the severest rebuke was even given to Peter, the head of the apostles, whom he told, “Get behind me, Satan!” (Mt 16,23)
We are reminded of this fact when in the gospel of St. Mark, Christ simply chose 12 out of the many disciples who followed him. (3,13-19) What we can derive from this observation is precisely that we, being meant to be conformed to Christ, the pattern of our humanity and the savior of our damaged humanity, are also meant to be apostles, to be involved in his mission. Christ treats us the same way he treats himself.
We have to be more aware of this truth about ourselves and try our best to act on it. To be an authentic Christian is not simply to be interested in one’s own sanctification. He also has to be involved in the sanctification of everyone. A Christian is at once interested in sanctifying himself and in sanctifying others as well.
To be sure, if we have the proper Christian frame of mind, we know that every event, circumstance, situation and condition in our life is an occasion to do apostolate. Even when one is isolated for one reason or another, he still can do apostolate, because this duty is not limited to dealing with others in a direct, physical way. It can be done with prayers, sacrifices and intentions. Indeed, there is no moment in our life when we cannot do apostolate!
We also have to realize that our pursuit for sanctity cannot be genuine if it does not involve doing apostolate. In fact, the tasks of sanctification and apostolate mutually help each other. One cannot be without the other.
When we are active in the apostolate, we get the chance to deal with our weaknesses and shortcomings better. Temptations can hardly affect us when we are occupied with this business of doing apostolate.
Obviously, if we are sincere in our pursuit for holiness, we would also feel more strongly the urge to do apostolate. If our prayer is authentic, if our sacrifices are generous and purely intended, if our recourse to the sacraments and the waging of ascetical struggle are stable, there can be no other effect than for us to get involved in the lives of others for their own sanctification.
What should ideally happen is to have the same drive and zeal that Christ had in carrying out his mission. He once said: “I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning!” (Lk 12,49) This will obviously require of us a lot of effort and discipline. But let’s never forget that we have to ask for God’s grace for this ideal to take place.
We can be sure that by earnestly pursuing this duty of ours as Christians, we would receive the joy and peace that the world cannot give, a joy and peace that, while involving a lot of effort and sacrifice, will always be palpable.
This is what we can see in Christ and in all the saints!