By Fr. Roy Cimagala
THIS truth of our Christian faith was graphically dramatized in that gospel episode where Christ told those who wanted to follow him to leave everything behind and give their all to him. (cfr. Lk 9,56-62)
“I will follow you wherever you go,” someone told Christ, to which the response was some kind of a warning about what to expect: “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”
Indeed, to follow Christ will surely involve a lot of sacrifice. It will never be a walk in the park. It will ask of us everything we have, including being detached from those whom we love dearly.
Thus, when Christ told another person to follow him and when that person said that he would like first to bury his father, the response of Christ, if considered according to our human standard, was quite brutal. “Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.”
Still, another characteristic of this total self-giving to God was described by Christ when another person told him, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.” To which, Christ said, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God.”
We need to process these words of Christ slowly and carefully. We have to arrive at the conviction that, indeed, with God we should give everything, including our life. Anyway, Christ told us very clearly that “whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Mt 10,39)
Still more, he said that “anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who love his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Mt 10,37-38)
We should not be afraid of these incredible words of Christ because if we manage to love God first, we would learn to also love others, including our enemies, properly, since God, in whose image and likeness we have been created, is love himself.
In our self-giving to God and to others, we should try our best to be energized, driven and zealous. That is actually the ideal condition for us. Even if we are endowed only with the most phlegmatic and melancholic temperaments, something must be burning inside our heart that cannot help but burst into a flame, a flame of love, of self-giving, of serving without expecting any return. If it is not yet there, then let’s enkindle it.
The secret again is always that vital identification with Christ who, in pursuit of his redemptive mission, expressed such zeal when he said: “I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning!” (Lk 12,49) And no amount of difficulty and suffering, and even death, could stop him from pursuing his mission. Such should also be out attitude.
If we are truly in love, with the love of God who is the source, pattern and end of love, we cannot help but, like Christ, be always energized, driven and zealous, no matter what the cost. Of course, this condition, this requirement is quite tough to meet, but if we would just try, and try again as often as necessary, certainly the ideal effect would just come about.