â€œI HAVE come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!â€ (Lk 12,49)
With these words, Christ expresses the consuming passion and zeal he has to carry out his mission on earth. Itâ€™s the same passion and zeal that we should try our best to cultivate and keep.
Itâ€™s what is proper to us. We are meant to be passionate, because we simply have passions that need to be used to the hilt. They just cannot be left idle and open to anything. They need to be properly grounded and oriented.
Reflecting Christâ€™s passionate character is what orders and integrates into an organic whole all the other passions we will always have, at one point or another, with respect to our human and earthly affairs and concerns.
This is the passion for holiness and apostolate that actually is the be-all and end-all of our life here on earth. Letâ€™s never forget what God told Moses: â€œSpeak to the whole Israelite community and tell them, Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.â€ (Lev 19,1)
Christ reiterated the same message when he clearly said: â€œBe perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect,â€ (Mt 5,48) understanding â€˜perfectâ€™ as loving everyone with nothing less than the love of God for us as lived and shown to us by Christ.
In other words, the passion that we should develop should be the passion and zeal for holiness and apostolate. This pair can never be separated, since holiness by definition involves not only loving God but also loving others with Godâ€™s love. Holiness will always be apostolic. It necessarily involves entering into the lives of others for God.
And before we get some strange ideas about this truth of our faith, like, it is too fantastic, undoable, if not inhuman, etc., we need to reassure ourselves that this is the passion that would actually make us fully human, fully Christian, children of God, perfect image and likeness of God.
As to its practicability, we cannot have any doubt about it, since God, for his part, is giving us everything for it to take place. He has sent his Son who became man to us. And this God-man, Jesus, died on the cross in his supreme act of self-giving to us. Nothing is spared to make us to be what we ought to be.
On our part, we have been wired and equipped for this passion for holiness and apostolate. With our intelligence and will, and always activated by Godâ€™s grace, we can enter into the life of God himself, and the lives of others.
While we retain our individual and personal identity, we can get identified too with God and with others. This is the tremendous wonder of our lifeâ€”that in spite of our weakness, mistakes and sins, we are still, as St. Augustine would put it, â€œcapax Dei,â€ capable of God. And if we are capable of loving God, then we too must be capable of loving others.
We just have to know how to integrate in that passion for holiness and apostolate the indispensable role of the cross of Christ. That cross is the necessary cure for our weaknesses and what would make up for our mistakes, failures and sins. That cross is where we can truly find Christ.
When Christ said that he is the â€œway, the truth and the life,â€ he must have the cross in mind, since in another part of the gospel, he clearly said: â€œWhoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.â€ (Mt 16,24)
We have to learn to make the cross, in whatever form it comes, an integral and essential part of our daily life. We should not wait for it to come. We have to look for it everyday, and in every circumstance. We actually need it more than we need air.
And when it comes without our looking for it, letâ€™s be quick to identify it with the Cross of Christ. Letâ€™s not waste time suffering our lifeâ€™s crosses purely on our own. We need to suffer them with Christ. Everything needs to be referred to Christ on the cross.
Then there would be nothing in our life that would prevent us from pursuing holiness and apostolate with passion. Not even our sins can weaken that passion. When referred to Christâ€™s cross, our mistakes, failures and sins can become tremendous spurs to get us closer to God and to others.
But we also need to live this passion with naturalnessâ€¦
(By Fr. Roy Cimagala)