By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, firstname.lastname@example.org
September 30, 2017
THE secret is to follow Christ. He himself said so. “If you want to follow me, deny yourself, carry the cross and follow me.” (Mt 16,24) We need to be most familiar with this very useful formula in our life and try our best to live by it.
The self-denial asked by Christ is not of the kind that leads us to our self-annihilation. Far from it. It will rather lead us to our self-fulfillment. It is asking that instead of our own selves, we should have Christ as the center of our attention always, the very core and substance of our consciousness. We need, of course, to exercise our faith to live by this divine indication.
And the reason is simple. Christ is the very pattern of our humanity in its original state and the redeemer of our damaged humanity. It’s him in whom we can have our ultimate fulfillment, our true and lasting joy and peace. That’s why Christ said he is “the way, the truth and the life” for us. We cannot go to God, our Father and creator, except through him.
We have to be wary of certain ideologies, cultures and lifestyles that tend to replace Christ as the cause of our self-fulfillment. Sad to say, these appear to be proliferating these days. We have to learn to do battle with them.
The self-denial asked by Christ will obviously require a lot of effort and sacrifice. That’s because we have to contend with our tremendous tendency to stick to our own selves – our own ideas, desires, ambitions, etc. Besides, this tendency is constantly reinforced now by the many allurements of the world, not to mention, the tricks and wiles of the devil himself.
But again, we can be sure that all this effort and sacrifice is all worth it. We need to do everything to wean ourselves from our own selves and start to rely on Christ completely. That absolute reliance on Christ does not annihilate us. It will simply bring us to our most perfect and ideal state. We should have no doubts or qualms in pursuing that ideal.
With Christ, we would know how to use our powers and faculties properly. We would have a clear idea of the real and ultimate purpose of our life here on earth. With him, we somehow would know how to cope with all the possible situations we can have here, including our problems, mistakes and failures.
The self-denial asked by Christ does not remove our involvement and engagement in our earthly and temporal affairs. It simply puts them in the right context and the right direction. We cannot deny that especially these days, we are exposed to many and complicated distracting elements which we have to learn to handle.
The self-denial asked by Christ frees us from unnecessary baggage. It improves our vision and understanding of things, and predisposes our heart to the real love which can only be a sharing in God’s love and, therefore, our true fulfillment.
We therefore should not have superfluous things, creating needs that are really not needs, and thereby generating attachments that can be a hindrance in one’s relation with God and with others.