Fr. Roy Cimagala .
IF love is genuine, it will always express itself strongly—with passion, with drive. It will always be hot and it just cannot keep to itself, passive and inactive. It has to overflow and touch the lives of others and the state of things. In fact, it seeks to transform and enrich others without counting the cost. It is also convinced that by giving, it is actually also receiving and gaining much more than what it gives away.
Yes, there is a certain madness to it, but one that is compatible with peace and joy. There is no bitterness involved, although a certain healthy tension characterizes it. It does not leave behind rationality, prudence and common sense. Its excesses are those of pure goodness. In this department, it is not sparing. It gives itself in abundance and without calculation, without measure.
Authentic love is not just a matter of feeling good. It is very much compatible with sacrifices, self-denial and self-giving. It goes beyond the realm of our emotions and feelings, and other worldly standards. It is, first and foremost, spiritual and supernatural.
We have to examine ourselves to see if our love has this kind of passion. To be sure, this is what is proper to us. A person who is not truly in love is actually demeaning his being a person.
That’s because a person by definition is meant for love. He has been made and equipped for it.
One sure standard we can use to see if we are truly in love is to check out on how we are using our time. Time, as we know, is precisely the ‘space’ meant for probing how our love is. If we make good use of time, then we are in love. If we just waste it away, it’s a clear sign we are not in love. That simple!
And so our love should lead us to organize our day well, making clear our goals that are arranged in their proper priority—God first, then others, then us. With this order, love can work in consistency. Otherwise, our love would at best be just apparent.
God has to be first. And not only first, but also always, that is, constantly, abidingly. And that is simply because God himself is love, “Deus caritas est,” and as such is the source, pattern, energy and end of love.
And this love is manifested to us in Christ who shares it with us in a vital, existential way, through his word, the sacraments and the countless other ways in which his presence and continuing action on us take place.
Christ already set this order of love when in that episode of him as a child who got lost and then found, he told his worried mother, “Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” (Lk 2,49) And in another instance, he said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish his work.” (Jn 4,34) And he fulfilled this all the way to the cross.
We have to have this kind of love daily and expressed in the usual things of our day. So we need to make some kind of daily plan, schedule, strategy that would outline as clearly as possible that the concrete things that we need to do out of love for God and for everybody else.
For this, we need to continually grow in our competence and sense of responsibility, always studying and reviewing whether what we have done so far are in accord with how things ideally should be.
Love’s passion never sacrifices rationality, much less, our faith and hope.
Where true freedom is. Make no mistake about it. Only in Christ can we find true freedom. Everything else can only give us, at best, apparent freedom that in the end can only put us into some bondage, if not destroy us.
The reason for this is that Christ, as the son of God and the pattern of our humanity, is the fullness of everything that is objectively true, good and beautiful for us. He is also the one that provides us with the power to do what is good for us, since freedom is mainly about freedom to do what is good.
And since freedom is not only about freedom to do what is good but also freedom from whatever evil can hound and tie us down, Christ also perfectly fits that requirement because as our redeemer, Christ liberates us from all evil that can come to us, namely, our natural limitations, our weaknesses, temptations, sins and death itself.
We need to understand this truth of our faith well, because nowadays it is very easy to be confused about where to find freedom and how freedom should be. That’s because all sorts of ideas promoted by all kinds of ideologies and spread by powerful groups have been flooding the world.
Nowadays, freedom is mainly understood as the power to do whatever a person or a group would like to do. It is purely a subjective freedom, based only on one’s conception of it or on the consensus of a certain group.
There is also the erroneous idea that freedom is anything that gives one some pleasure, some convenience, some advantage, etc. Again it is an idea of freedom that is self-oriented, not other-oriented which is how it should be, since freedom is a matter of loving, and loving is self-giving, not self-serving.
Because of these confusing if not erroneous ideas, the sacrifices involved in loving the way Christ has loved us—Christ who is the standard of love and freedom—turn off many people who cannot accept the freedom offered to us by Christ. After all, Christ himself said that if we want to follow him, we have to deny ourselves and carry the cross. (cfr. Mt 16,24)
We need to promote the real freedom that is offered to us by Christ. We have to preach about it, in season and out of season, and explain it thoroughly, using arguments that are adapted to the different mentalities and cultures of the people.
Our problem in this regard is usually that of being ineffective in our preaching because we use complex or subtle arguments, examples, etc., that are above people’s head. This is not to mention the fact that many times people find inconsistency in what we preach and in what we do. We do not walk the talk.
But I am sure that if we manage to convince people, using both human and supernatural means, that we can actually get in contact with Christ who is always alive and is in touch with us, then we can see this authentic freedom lived out all over the place.
We have to know how to reassure people that with Christ and the freedom that he gives us, we can actually handle all kinds of situations, either humanly good or bad, and can make use of them to attain our eternal goal.
This is the freedom that broadens our mind, expands our heart so as to accommodate everyone the way he is without forgetting how he ought to be, as well as everything else in life.
It is a matter of assuming the very mind and heart of Christ who literally gives himself to us, especially in the Eucharist, so that we can really have this authentic freedom, and not the many apparent if not fake forms of freedom.