Advancing for more than seven (7)months to date, the COVID_19 pandemic rages on with its third wave of attack. We need to be vigilant. We cannot afford to be defeated by laxity and complacency. Indeed, it remains vital to focus on the things that really matter: How deep is your love?
In searching for the answer to such an existential question, St. Josemaria Escriva, in his classic book, The Way, tries to suggest an answer, worthwhile reflecting on, as follows:
“You are ambitious: for knowledge . . . for leadership. You want to be daring.St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way
Good. That’s fine. But let it be for Christ, for Love.”
As may be gleaned from above, the point of St. Josemaria is that, in desiring to be ambitious, one ought to focus on the things that really matter most in life. Nowadays, with the ubiquity of the internet, it is so easy to be swayed by cultural norms which speak about worldly ambitions seeking the ephemeral. Clearly, the world of today defines success in terms of getting ahead of everyone else be it in knowledge, intellectual properties, material wealth, and influence in society. It’s a zero-sum game: it’s either you win or you lose. In such a case, can one honestly venture to ask: how deep is your love?
Pope Francis couldn’t have aptly described it when he said: The world tells us exactly the opposite: entertainment, pleasure, diversion and escape make for the good life. The worldly person ignores problems of sickness or sorrow in the family or all around him; he averts his gaze. The world has no desire to mourn; it would rather disregard painful situations, cover them up or hide them. Much energy is expended on fleeing from situations of suffering in the belief that reality can be concealed. But the cross can never be absent.(Gex 75)
The Call to Holiness
In his own small way, the young priest, Josemaria Escriva, pondered upon such an existential question: how deep is your love? On October 2, 1928, the young priest, Josemaria Escriva, received an illumination whereby he saw a new way by which ordinary laypeople could pursue holiness or love for God, that is, through the loving fulfillment of each one’s ordinary duties of each day.
In the same token, ninety years thereafter, in his Apostolic Exhortation, Gaudete et Exsultate, Pope Francis enjoined the faithful to heed the call to holiness. He said: “The Gospel invites us to peer into the depths of our heart, to see where we find our security in life. Usually the rich feel secure in their wealth and think that, if that wealth is threatened, the whole meaning of their earthly life can collapse. Jesus himself tells us this in the parable of the rich fool: he speaks of a man who was sure of himself, yet foolish, for it did not dawn on him that he might die that very day (cf. Lk 12:16-21).”
To Be Human is To Love
At its core, the measure of one’s love ultimately reflects on the person’s depth of love for God. Interestingly, a Bohemia-Austrian poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, composed an inspiring poem that eloquently described his outlook on life. He said: “I live my life in widening circles that reach out across the world. I may not complete this last one but I will give myself to it.” In essence, he was referring to a mission, driven by his love for God, which motivated him to reach out to his ever-widening circle of friends and loved ones. Perhaps, we could emulate Rilke’s mission in life.
Fix Your Gaze at the Face of Christ
Falling in love with Christ is not an overnight occurrence. Rather, it entails the daily choice of doing acts of love for one’s spouse or neighbor, which, though small, accumulate over time into a personal relationship with Christ. On one occasion, Pope Francis gave an advise: “Here then, is the secret of life, that brings us out of anonymity: to fix our gaze on Jesus’ face and become familiar with Him. Looking at Jesus,” he continued, “purifies our sight and prepares us to look at everything with new eyes. Meeting with Jesus, looking at the Son of Man, the poor, and the simple found themselves, they felt loved deeply by love without measure.”
Finally, love for Christ will blossom if one goes out of his way to get to know Christ through the Holy Scriptures. As Pope Francis said: “Nothing is more enlightening than turning to Jesus’ words and seeing his way of teaching the truth. Jesus explained with great simplicity what it means to be holy when he gave us the Beatitudes (cf. Mt 5:3-12; Lk 6:20-23). The Beatitudes are like a Christian’s identity card. So if anyone asks: “What must one do to be a good Christian?”, the answer is clear. We have to do, each in our own way, what Jesus told us in the Sermon on the Mount. In the Beatitudes, we find a portrait of the Master, which we are called to reflect in our daily lives.”(Gex 63)