Some words from the Churchâ€™s pastoral constitution â€œGaudium et spesâ€ can give us basis for this assertion that otherwise would be purely gratuitous if we fail to consider some truths of faith about ourselves.
â€œThe Lord Jesus,â€ the magisterial document says, â€œwhen he prayed to the Father, â€˜that all may be oneâ€¦as we are oneâ€™ (Jn 17,21-22) opened up vistas closed to human reason, for He implied a certain likeness between the union of the divine Persons, and the unity of Godâ€™s sons in truth and charity. This likeness reveals that man is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere GIFT of himself.â€ (24, emphasis mine)
It would be good to go through this doctrine of our faith slowly so we can have a better understanding of our own selves and develop the proper frame of mind and attitude toward ourselves and the world in general.
We are creatures, and not beings who happen to burst into existence spontaneously. We come not only from our parents, but ultimately from God. We are not only material beings, of purely biological nature and completely of the world, We are spiritual beings, children of God, created to be the image and likeness of God.
We are meant to love one another, to offer ourselves to others as gift. This should be the mentality we have to develop and attain. This is where we find our true joy, our true fulfillment. Everything that we do or is done to us should be a function of this basic, indispensable purpose of our life.
We have to realize more clearly that as a gift, we have to be as precious as we can be. This is what we normally do among ourselves, like during birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, etc., when out of true love we give something as a gift to someone. It would be something precious, meaningful, and as lasting as possible.
We have to understand then that all the lavish love, affection and care showered on us right when we were still babies is done to make us a precious gift to others in the future. They are meant to empower us later on to love, to give ourselves as gift to others.
Thatâ€™s how things ought to work. We should be wary when we think that all those good things given to us are just for us to enjoy.Â That would be dangerous.
In children, to think that way is understandable, and thatâ€™s why they have to be educated, reminded and corrected from time to time. If these good things are not understood as ways for us to be a precious gift to others in the future and to empower us to love others, then thereâ€™s no other way but for us to get spoiled.
We have to train ourselves to be always mindful and thoughtful of the others. We have to understand that everything that we do for our proper personal growth and development, and for our progress toward human and Christian maturity would depend on how all these efforts get inspired by love, by that basic principle that we are supposed to be a gift to all. Otherwise, everything will just come to nothing, and will do us more harm than good.
Of course, to acquire that mentality of being a gift to everyone has to contend with a great variety of difficulties. We have our weaknesses, there are many temptations around, we actually have powerful enemies that would want us to think and care simply for ourselves. We have to do constant battle with them.
The gospel tells us already of a three-fold weakness we have: the concupiscence of the eyes, the concupiscence of the flesh and the pride of life. (cfr 1 Jn 2,16)
And in another part, we are told about the powerful enemies that would want us to get spoiled in ourselves. â€œFor we wrestle,â€ St. Paul tells us, â€œnot against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedess in high places.â€ (Eph 6,12)
We have no alternative but to wage a constant ascetical struggle for us to fall and to be in love all the time, making ourselves a gift to God and to everyone else. Every victory in this struggle, no matter how little, counts!
(By Fr. Roy Cimagala)