Fr. Roy Cimagala .
WE are, of course, in this world which plays a crucial role in the over-all scheme of our entire life. But we have to remember that even as we immerse ourselves in worldly affairs, we should not allow ourselves to be so trapped by them that we forget that we are meant for a life beyond this world.
We are meant for heaven, for life in eternity, hopefully with God our Creator and Father in whose image and likeness we have been created. And so, we should sharpen our constant awareness of our heavenly destination, and the ways by which this awareness can be kept.
Christ said it very clearly. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Mt 6,19-21)
And St. Paul echoes the same sentiment. “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Col 3,2) We should do everything to avoid getting entangled with our earthly and temporal affairs.
It’s not that these worldly concerns of ours are not important. They are very important! But only as means, not as ends. They are nothing, and they can be very harmful to us, if they are not related to our true and ultimate end.
We have to find ways to relate everything to God, to the supernatural character of our final destination in heaven. Whether we like it or not, this is how the cookie crumbles for us, given our nature that is not only material but also eminently spiritual.
We are meant for a supernatural life with God because that is how we are wired and equipped with our intelligence and will, and also because, first of all, it is God’s will and he gives us the grace to effect it in us.
This is no gratuitous assertion, because many are the references in the Bible that tell us so. “My son, give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways,” we are told. (Prov 23,26) And in another instance, we are told: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you. I have summoned you by name. You are mine.” (Is 43,1)
The strongest proof, of course, is the fact that God became man, Jesus Christ, who assumed all our sins with his passion, death and resurrection. God wants us to be like him in Christ through the Holy Spirit.
We can correspond to this grand design of God for us, first, by keeping a constant dialogue with him. This should not be difficult to do since any item in our life can be and should be a material for that dialogue.
Our problem is that we prefer to talk with our own selves, and very often we just find ourselves empty headed and prone to all our weaknesses, temptations and the many other allurements in the world.
The Holy Spirit is constantly prompting us, is always intervening in our lives, showing us the way and empowering us to do a lot of good. If we would just allow ourselves to be led by the Spirit, instead of our own flesh-and-world-based reason and will, we would be doing a lot of good. We would be storing up treasures in heaven.
To be led by the Spirit is the best thing that can happen to us. We would not be lost as we cruise the many tricky ways of the world. No matter what happens, even if we commit mistakes in our temporal affairs, we would still end up doing good.
Spiritual life and preaching. We have to remind ourselves that the effectiveness of a priest’s preaching depends mainly on the state of his spiritual life. More than his intellectual caliber and his speaking and entertaining skills and all other human charms he possesses, it’s in the health of his spiritual life where the people can truly hear the word of Christ.
Let’s remember that Christ said to his disciples, “Whoever listens to you listens to me.” (Lk 10,16) These words clearly presume that the priest should be vitally identified with Christ so that his preaching would actually be the preaching of Christ, and not just his alone.
While all his human powers and talents have to be used for preaching, one has to see to it that that these powers and talents get truly inspired by the spirit of Christ. In short, the priest has to assume the very mind and heart of Christ when he preaches. Otherwise, he will just be preaching himself to the people. And that would be a very funny and anomalous situation.
All the legitimate concerns for him to be effective in his preaching, like he has to be identified with the people, to be innovative in order to flow with the times, etc., should come as a consequence of his indispensable identification with the living Christ to whom he is sacramentally conformed.
Let’s remember that Christ is the perfect and lone mediator between God and men. The priest can only be a good mediating preacher to the extent that he becomes another Christ.
The priest should always remember the radical identity that he has. He is no one other than Christ, head of the Church. Even when he is playing sports and doing an excursion, this awareness of this identity should never be lost.
Imagine if he is truly another Christ, if he has the very mind and heart of Christ. He would never run out of things to say, he would know how to read minds and the signs of the times, he would be full of goodness and mercy, etc.!
For this, he should always be praying, or at least, conscious that he is in the presence of God. Everything in his life, no matter how small and insignificant it is in human terms, should be a material for his abiding dialogue with God.
How important therefore it is to do everything just to be another Christ not only in name and title, but most especially in vivo! He should avoid simply being some kind of bureaucrat, an official in the Church, a scholar, an expert in something. He has to be another Christ, nothing short of that!
When one strives to be another Christ, even his limitations and mistakes can be very useful. And the opposite is also true. When one is not truly another Christ, even the best qualities and talents he has can be a danger to him and to everybody else. Let’s remember what St. Paul said in this regard.
“Brothers,” he said, “consider the time of your calling.
Not many of you were wise by human standards. Not many were powerful. Not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly and despised things of the world, and the things that are not, to nullify the things that are.” (1 Cor 1,26-28)
The path to be another Christ is that of humility that in turn will always nourish our faith, hope and charity, or in short, our spiritual life. We need to travel this path for one to be a good and effective preacher.