Fr. Roy Cimagala .
MANY people today, especially the women and some men, are quite concerned about aging. And they can get obsessed with how to slow or delay it, if not avoid it altogether.
This, to me, is quite understandable, because deep within our heart and soul, we want to live forever, we want to go beyond the limits of time and space, which is actually a manifestation of the spiritual part of our nature.
And if we want to be philosophical about this, we can say that we are actually meant for immortality. We have a certain connaturality with immortality and eternal life. The spiritual dimension of our nature is wired and equipped for this purpose. But we need to know how we can turn this longing into a reality.
If our spiritual soul is mainly dominated by our bodily aspects, then it cannot help but age with our own flesh. No amount of creams, pills and Zumba exercises, of Belo and Calayan make-overs can stop the process. At best, they can only do so much. Sooner or later, age will catch up with them.
But if it is animated by the spirit of God, with whom we are actually intimately united, then our spiritual soul can transcend the limits of our material nature and can enter into the eternal life of bliss with God, even starting here on earth. The body can body enter into a process of perpetual renewal and rejuvenation.
This spiritual anti-aging knows how to deal with our mistakes and sins that causes aging and ultimately will lead us to death. And this means that our anti-aging “agent” should be none other than Christ, the pattern of our humanity and the savior of our damaged humanity.
Yes, it’s only in Christ, it’s only when we are fully animated by Christ’s spirit that we can manage to remain ageless irrespective of the varying conditions of our body that will unavoidably lead to its deterioration. Let’s never forget that as St. Peter said in his second letter, “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” (3,8) This can only mean that we would be ageless with Christ.
We need to do everything to be so animated by the spirit of Christ that whatever situation and condition we may be in life, we can still remain fresh and young, and reflect what the Book of Revelation said: “The dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’” (21,4-5)
It’s important that we do not take this truth of our faith for granted. We have to return to it and meditate on it often to reassure ourselves of the possibility of our true immortality. We need to do this because nowadays there are also other ideologies with tremendous charm powers that promise immortality outside of God’s power, and these claims can only be false.
Of course, there are also ideologies that do not promise immortality anymore. They simply believe that there is no more life after death, and all this talk about eternal life is trash. But they contradict a basic and undeniable longing we hold in our hearts.
We need to strengthen our conviction that before we take on any human effort to be always youthful, it is only in Christ who is the real anti-aging agent for us, even while here on earth. Christ who died and rose from the dead, Christ who conquered sin and death itself. All of this, out of love. Loving in and with Christ is what makes us forever young.
Count the blessing, not the cost. If we are truly good men and women, let alone good Christians, we should just count the many blessings we receive from God, and be most thankful for them, thinking of how we can best use them, rather than count the cost and then grumble for the effort and the deficiencies that may be involved in raising it.
The basic reality is that we have received a lot more from God than what we can account for. We should try our best to acknowledge these many blessings as best as we could. This basic reality dominates much more than what we think are our deficiencies, misfortunes and miseries we can have in life.
And if we sincerely feel that we lack something that we consider to be necessary in our life, then we can always ask God for it, with faith, humility and patience, knowing that God is always in control of things. We should not feel bad, much less, angry or sad or desperate because of this lack.
The important thing to do is to discern what God has in mind for us at any given moment, because that would give us a good picture of why we have what we have and why we don’t have what we think we should have.
In any event, it is always possible that what we have and what we don’t have are God’s ways of relating us to him. They are not meant to make us live our life independently of God.
We can always presume that God always provides us with everything that we need to live our life and vocation as well as carry out our mission properly. So we can validly presume that what we have and what we don’t have are just right for us at the moment.
Just the same, since our life is like a pilgrimage, we can also presume that God may want us to discard certain things that we have at the moment, and look for those that we still do not have.
Given these two possibilities, what is important is, as said earlier, to relate ourselves to God always. Without relating ourselves and our current condition to God, it is possible that the many blessings we have received from God can harm us rather than do us good or help us do the things we are supposed to do.
Again, without relating ourselves and our current condition to God, it is very likely that we can fall into all sorts of frustration, anger and even desperation. We can fail to realize that perhaps it is God’s way of making us go to him, to beg him for this favor, and in the process, strengthen our relationship with him.
What we can gather from all these considerations so far is that we should try to be calm always, so that we can see and judge things properly. This way we can act with greater prudence, as we can get to see things more objectively and ultimately to see God’s will and ways.
It’s very important that we are always humble. In fact, our humility should always grow deeper, because this is the only way for us to see things and judge things properly. It allows faith to act on us fully as testified by Christ himself who said:
“I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because\ you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.” (Mt 11,25)
St. James echoes the same idea in his letter: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” (4,6)