By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, [email protected]
February 27, 2022
THAT’S true. Despite our weaknesses, mistakes, sins, etc., we have in our heart of hearts an inherent desire for heaven. As the Catechism would put it, “This desire (for happiness) is of divine origin: God has placed it in the human heart in order to draw man to the One who alone can fulfill it.” (1718)
This truth of our faith is illustrated in that gospel episode where a rich young man approached Christ, asking what he had to do to gain eternal life. (cfr. Mk 10,17-27) As that gospel story unfolded, Christ told him first to follow the commandments, and when the young man said that he had observed all those, Christ then told him to “sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
Well, we know how the young man reacted to that response of Christ. It was a sad ending, precisely because the young man found it hard and was unwilling to follow what Christ told him. That’s when Christ said, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the Kingdom of God!...It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.”
We have to realize that to meet our inherent desire for eternal happiness, for heaven, we need to free ourselves from any attachments to earthly things, even as we use them and even enjoy them in our earthly affairs. The things of this world should be a means for us to be with God. They should not be a competitor with God.
That is why we have to live in the strictest sense possible the virtue of Christian poverty that allows us to use the things of this world to give glory to God and to lead us to heaven.
We cannot overemphasize the strategic relevance of this virtue. With all the glut of material and temporal things now on us, we need to be more conscious and adept in living and developing this virtue of detachment.
I don’t think we can afford to be casual about this concern anymore. The worldly things are now so attractive, so tempting and so riveting that if we are not careful, there’s no way but be swept away by its rampaging worldly laws and impulses.
This virtue has the primary purpose of emptying our mind and heart of anything that can compete or, worse, replace the love for God and for others which is proper to all of us.
It’s not about running away from worldly things, much less, of hating the goods of the earth and our temporal affairs, but of knowing how to handle them, so as not to compromise the fundamental law of love that should rule us.
To repeat, it is not just a matter of emptying ourselves but rather of filling ourselves with what is proper to us. In short, we practice detachment to acquire and enhance the attachment that is proper to us as God’s image and likeness and as God’s children.
It’s quite clear that a requirement for entering heaven is detachment from earthly things. This should be clear to all of us, and should guide us in the way we use the things of the world. These things should lead us to God and to others, not isolate us, building up our own world and destiny.