Fr. Roy Cimagala .
“TEACH us how to live in this passing world with our heart set on the world that will never end.” This is part of a Eucharistic Preface for Lent which reminds us that we should have our focus on the ultimate goal of life without getting confused and lost as we immerse ourselves in the passing things of this world.
This point echoes what St. Paul said in his Letter to the Colossians: “Since you have been raised with Christ, strive for the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (3,1-2)
More or less the same idea is reiterated in another liturgical prayer which says, “May we receive the grace to cast off the old way of life and to redirect our course toward the life of heaven.”
We should be mindful of this need of ours to have the proper focus in our life. We should do everything to be able to have that focus, given the fact that in our earthly life, we cannot help but get immersed in so many earthly and temporal things.
May we know how to relate the things of this world to our ultimate heavenly and eternal goal. May we know how to avoid getting stranded, stuck or entangled with the things of this world, with all the technicalities of our earthly affairs, with all kinds of distractions that the world is now full of.
Everything in our earthly life, whether good or bad in human terms, can and should be related to God. Everything can be an occasion, a path and a means to know, love and serve God and others.
Relating everything to God is an art and skill that we need to learn and master. And for that ideal to become real, effective and operative, we certainly have to develop our spiritual life that would involve many things.
For one, we have to learn how to pray. Of course, we have to be convinced first of all of the indispensability and practicability of prayer in our life. We have to know, for example, why we have to pray, what the purposes and kinds of prayer are, etc.
We have to develop the discipline and habit of praying. The problem we have now is that many people do not know how to pray, or that they don’t even care to pray.
Then we have to deepen our knowledge of the doctrine of our faith so we can be more familiar and hopefully become more able to carry out God’s will. Let’s remember that God revealed himself completely to us through Christ, and that revelation is not only historical but also existential.
That revelation continues to take place even now till the end of time through God’s power. But we have to do our part in corresponding to it as faithfully as possible. And, to be sure, it is not only revelation that is being done. Again through his mysterious power and ways, God continues to deal with us directly and wants to identify himself with us since he wants us to be his image and likeness.
Yes, we have to study the doctrine of our faith with the view of conforming our mind and will to God’s mind and will, and later on to reflect in our life the very life of God himself. This may sound like a very fantastic, incredible assertion to make, but that happens to be what God wants for us.
We just have to believe that this can be done, not so much because of our effort, though we are asked to do our best, but because of God’s power. What is impossible with us is always possible with God. But we need to go along as best as we can with God’s will and ways, echoing Christ’s words:
“For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.” (Jn 6,38)
Catching God’s voice. This is an art and skill we need acquire. Knowing that our life is not just our own, but is always a life shared first of all with God, our Creator and Father, and then with others, we have to realize more deeply that we have this duty of learning how to catch God’s voice not only in some special moments of our life, but also at all times.
Yes, God speaks to us all the time, and that’s simply because he, being our Creator who can never withdraw his presence from us, is the main protagonist in giving shape and direction to our life.
We, of course, do our part, and others and everything else in our life contribute in shaping our life, but it is God who originally, abidingly and ultimately gives it shape and direction.
We should not forget this very basic truth about ourselves. God is still creating us. He is not yet finished with us. We are still a work in progress, a divine project that is still under construction. He wants us to be truly his image and likeness, to be children of his, meant to share in his life and nature. We have to be most aware of this truth and behave accordingly.
But we have to learn how to catch his voice. We can presume that being our Creator and Father who loves us to madness, he is actually intervening in our life all the time. There is nothing in our life where he is not involved. Even in our worst scenario, when we fall into a big mess, with a big ugly sin defacing our soul, he is around, even more solicitous of our condition than ever.
He never leaves us. It is us who leaves him, ignores him and even goes against him. We have to acknowledge this reality and do our part to correct what is wrong or deficient in our relationship with God.
God himself reveals to us constantly, even through nature itself. St. Paul said as much in his Letter to the Romans. “For what can be known about God,” he said, “is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.” (1,19-20)
We really have no excuse from not knowing God and not hearing his voice. We just have to learn to be perceptive by activating our faith always, always reminding ourselves that God must be saying something to us now and we just have to find ways of how to know what he is telling us.
It’s our usual attitude of ignoring God or of taking him for granted that makes us deaf to his words and blind to his will and ways. We have to overcome that attitude by making many acts of humility, reminding ourselves that we are nothing without him. The only possibility we have when we are without him is to err and to commit sin, even if we can say that we are having a grand time knowing a lot of things in this world.
We have to realize that even in the most secular and mundane activity we have, God is always there. Even in our worst condition when we are in a state of grave sin, God looks at us with greater affection and understanding. Everything can and should be relatable to God.
We just have to put ourselves in the constant presence of God, keeping always a dialogue with him, praising him, thanking him, asking him for pardon and for favors. We should overcome whatever fear, shame or awkwardness we may feel toward him, because the truth is that however we are, God is always a father to us, full of love and compassion for us.