The Gospels and New Testament writings talk much about the call of discipleship and our personal response to God‘s call. Furthermore, the Epistles from the Apostles to their communities touched much about what it means to live out this life of discipleship in our everyday interactions with one another. Through those interactions, can see much similarities in our very own parishes and personal lives of faith as the early Christians. Since the beginning, we have learned that it is not always easy to live as Christ taught us! It was not easy to love our neighbors, be committed to the faith, and live in our everyday life as disciples of Christ. Just as the early Christians who struggled with the different interpretations of how to properly live out the divine commandments and the life of discipleship, we still struggle today to find the balanced, holistic, and Christ-centered way to truly give ourselves as we are called to be.
We find so many interpretations, models, and suggestions of what works best, ranging from something very theological to political, idealistic to mundane, of what it means to be followers and believers. Some twisted the truth for their personal, social, or political agendas, others interpreted things too literally, one-sided, or out of context (at times, too, with the best intentions). We have also seen many theologians and teachers telling us how things should work, but those words or ideologies often remain “out there” for many who remain uninterested or disconnected with them.
In order for us to truly be disciples, we have to personalize and internalize the Lord‘s teachings, trying our best to understand and keep His divine commandments, and to personally embrace the moral life. We cannot just stand on the side to pick and choose what we like or comfortable for us. We have seen and lived with those who talked and promised a lot, who came to us when they need something, or call only when something is wrong. Even though we have tried to be there and care for them, it is hard to not feel that we are being used or only needed when it is convenient. It is not a good feeling and it is oftentimes hard to choose to love and care for those people wholeheartedly! In similar ways, too, to say that we believe is not simply about choosing what is convenient and beneficial for us. We cannot be sitting on our personal thrones and expect things to be catered to our needs, waiting for the Church and the world to change and be “better” before we are committed and do something. Let us be honest… Too many times, we put ourselves on a throne or pedestal in order to be served instead to serve, judging others according to our expectations and demands, but we have not let go, to follow, and become disciples of Christ.
In a consumerist world, everything can be bought, customized, or made to meet our wants if we have enough money, power, and influence. We, oftentimes, have transferred this mindset to the life of faith as well. We think that we can choose a flavor of faith that we like and fit our needs. We want only what fits us and makes us feel good, like having our own buffet of appealing choices and desserts to top it off. Nowadays, we tend to worry much about our rights and freedom to do whatever we want without knowing that true freedom, for Christians, is found in letting go of the things of this world as to be free to love in Christ Jesus.
Instead of allowing the power of grace and the transformative love of the Gospel set us free, we like to chain the Savior and His teachings to our standards because we would rather like to be dependent, and in turn, continue to be enslaved by the things of this world. Too often times, by liking things our way, we have ended up cheapening the Gospel and makes it like a placebo effect that only exists to distract, take our minds away, and make us feel good for a bit before we return to the same old enslavement and codependent relationship with this world.
We have already seen it in places, but sooner or later, our society will make God a word to be thrown out in conversations but we live our everyday life without faith because we stopped believing. Deep inside, we think that nothing changes! We become cynical, drifting through life, not trusting anything or anyone because life itself is no longer worth living. We simply become people who drift, looking for some small pleasures, yet so hopeless and filled with despair. Hence, if you really think about it, this is the same down spiral track of an addict, looking for some small escapes from the redundancy of life, its emptiness and sorrows, but is not courageous enough to let go of what is enslaving them.
We have become a society that worries much about external beauties, focusing on small scratches and stressing out on normal bruises of life, but ignorant of the internal problems, especially the gangrene and cancers that eat us alive deep from within. There are so many signs that tell us that people are lost and unhappy with themselves. All we ever hear on the internet, television, and the news are talks about small problems that get magnified as big ones. Nevertheless, the important issues are ignored, swept under the carpet, and not talked about because everyone only likes to focus on apparent social issues that concern their immediate freedom and rights, especially what is wrong when they do not get what they want. Sadly, the crucial matters are often ignored, muffled, and do not want to be talked about because they ruffle too many feathers and affect too many people; therefore, we talk about the small stuff but forgotten to read and understand the signs of the subconscious cries for help from the toxicity of this world.
Too many have traded the true freedom of the Gospel for the immediate, apparent, and false enticements of this world. We rather be enslaved with the toxicity of this world than to change our lives in order to be disciples of Christ. We are too scared to admit that we have a problem, to walk away, and turn to Him for help for we are too used to unhealthily coping with addictive substances and codependent matters. Only when we are honest enough to look deep from within to accept that we have a problem, that we are not free, then can we actually humbly turn ourselves to the love of the Lord to receive the grace to let go and live a new life in Him.
We need to stop giving the excuses of “Not yet, Lord!” or “It is not for me!” If not today then when? If not now, will we ever say yes (to Him)? We might not be perfect, but we can always start somewhere. If we fail, stand up and walk with Him again! The Lord only asks that we be humble, persevere, and return to Him when we stray away. He always leaves the light on, waiting for us to come back! Where? You ask! This light is always lit near the Tabernacle, telling us that He is present and waiting for us to visit, and in the Confessional, eagerly to forgive us of our sins and our failures. Therefore, let us be disciples in following the Savior as to love in the true freedom and fullness of His loving grace for us.