Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Materializing and spiritualizing

GIVEN the material and spiritual dimensions in which our
earthly life has to develop, we really need to learn how to blend the
two together in some unity and consistency without, of course,
confusing them. What is material is material, and what is spiritual is
spiritual, but the two should mutually affect each other. Focusing on
one while neglecting on the other would not be proper to us.

            Of the two, it is also a given that it is the spiritual
dimension that should be given prominence and priority. As Christ
himself said, “It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no
help at all…” (Jn 6,63)

            And yet the body can neither be disregarded since, as St.
Paul said, “Do you not know that your bodies are the members of
Christ…that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?...Therefore,
glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Cor
6,15-20)

            We have to learn how to put these two dimensions together
in some mutual relation. We need to spiritualize our material selves,
that is, our body, our flesh, just as we need to materialize our
spiritual selves, that is, our soul.

            Otherwise, we would fall into the extremes of
spiritualism, a spirituality devoid of material effects, on the one
hand, and materialism, an ideology that denies any spiritual
constituent in our life, on the other. The former can easily give rise
to hypocrisy and self-righteousness, while the latter can only breed
crudeness.

            These isms are akin to what St. James in his letter
described as faith without works, for spiritualism, and works without
faith, for materialism. (cfr. 2,14-26) To be sure, one’s Christian
life may give more emphasis on one over the other, but both should be
given their proper attention and development.

            At the moment, it is clear that the materialistic
lifestyle is more rampant in the world today. Just the same, the
purely spiritualistic lifestyle is also growing and, in fact, is
hardening in some sectors. This divide should be overcome because
neither one nor the other is good for us.

            Since the time of Christ and the apostles, all kinds of
spiritualities, cultures and lifestyles have expressed their own
versions of how these two dimensions in our life ought to be lived and
interrelated. They always have valid points to give.

            But we need to develop a culture that is adapted to our
present conditions. Such culture should take into consideration the
technological developments, the socio-political milieus in the world,
the different sensibilities of the people today, etc.

            This aspect of our common life should be given due
attention and should never be taken for granted. It’s true that God is
always around and is in control of things, regardless of how we mess
up his providence. But we are expected to do our part.

            We need to learn the art of spiritualizing the material
dimension of our life, and materializing the spiritual as well. To be
sure this is the right path to lead us to the fullness of our human
and Christian life!


Monday, June 19, 2017

Eager to intercede

YES, we need to be eager and quick to help others. We
should never be indifferent to the needs of others even if we have our
own needs and predicaments. Actually, our attitude of interceding for
others has a way of resolving or at least of giving some relief to our
own problems and difficulties.

            Our own problems and difficulties should not be a
hindrance in our eagerness to intercede for the others. In fact, we
should make use of our own predicaments to spur us to get more
involved in the lives of others. By so doing, we would actually
simplify our life, not complicate it.

            We very likely would ask, how can that be when we already
are burdened by our own problems? And the answer can be that this
outlook in life and attitude to our problems can be the practical
application of what Christ himself said and encouraged us to do:
“Whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses
their life for me will find it.” (Mt 16,25)

            The same divine logic can be found in these other words of
Christ: “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed
down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your
bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be
measured to you again.” (Lk 6,38)

            Our eagerness to intercede for others should be based on
our faith and love for God. It should never be a product of mere human
calculations. We have to follow what Christ has taught and shown us.

            To be sure, we always have the capacity to intercede
because even if we can be very limited in helping others materially,
our capacity to help others spiritually is unlimited. We can always
pray for them, offer sacrifices for them. That’s the least that we can
do for others but also the most indispensable.

            We have to remind ourselves of the great truth of faith
that we actually form one family, the family of God. Through the truth
of our faith called the communion of saints, we are vitally united
with one another here on earth, with those in heaven as well as with
those still purifying themselves in purgatory.

            We need to feel responsible for one another, asking the
effective intercession of those already triumphant in heaven and
generously helping those still in purgatory. And with those still
struggling here on earth, we need to be pro-active in reaching out to
all, including those who may not like us for one reason or another.

            We need to train ourselves and form our mind and heart to
immediately be mindful and thoughtful of them, getting to know them
better, empathizing with them, helping bear with their burdens,
whatever they may be.

            As said earlier, we can always pray for them and offer
sacrifices for them. In this way, we reflect the very redemptive life
of Christ and assume his sentiments of love, compassion and mercy. We
approach the ideal of our life which is to be “alter Christus,”
another Christ!


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Loving our work

WE have to understand that our work, whatever it is,
whether it is high or low, is our usual way to give praise and glory
to God. It is actually our way of cooperating in the abiding
providence of God. We should not underestimate the value of our work.
It can and should be our path to heaven.

            That is why we should see to it first of all that our work
is what God wants us to do. Our attitude toward our work should not be
conditioned mainly, much less, solely, by the fact we like a
particular kind of work or that we have the aptitude toward it, or the
relevant qualities and skills for it. While these factors matter, they
should not be the main criterion. Such attitude can only confine us to
our own interest.

            What should guide us is what God and the others want and
need from us, and how they want to be served. This attitude should
determine the kind of work we do and the way we do it, and would bring
us to tackle the objective requirements of the common good.

            Having determined that, we should love our work, doing it
as best as we can. And this can mean that we carry it out very
conscientiously, “squeezing” each hour for all it is worth. We should
work in such a way that we would always be short of time for finishing
what we would like to do?

            It can also mean that we look very carefully after the
details in finishing well our daily work. We should lovingly exert the
necessary effort for it and embrace the sacrifices involved—that is,
the setbacks, the difficulties, the tiredness and fatigue.

            These are normal occurrences in our daily work that we
should not anymore be surprised about. We just have to be prepared for
them, since they are occasions to grow in our love for God and others.
In short, in our holiness.

            We should see to it that we are always eager to work,
always guarding ourselves from the threats of laziness and idleness,
and the many improper distractions that usually come our way.

            We have to take stock of the dangers that can undermine
our capacity to work and to work well. They can be certain undue
attachments to things, like games, shopping, daydreaming, or some
disorder in the way we work, or the bad spirit of complacency and
routine that can stealthily enter into our way of working. We have to
react to these dangers immediately.

            Another clear manifestation of our love for our work is
when we are eager to upgrade our skills and competence in our work.
Especially in these rapidly changing times, we need to be constantly
updated. We cannot stay stagnant in a certain level. We should also
learn to be highly adaptable, creative and versatile so as to catch up
with the fast-shifting developments.

            Most important is to review those aspects of our faith
that are more directly related to our work. Our work is not just a
purely technical affair. It has a highly spiritual and moral dimension
and apostolic purpose.