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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, August 9, 2016
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Rock and Refuge
with Fr. Roy Cimagala
OPINIONS

Rock & Refuge

Vigilance, detachment, fruitfulness

“Be like servants who await their master's return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks.” (Lk 12,36) With these words, it's clear that Christ wants us to be on the watch for the second coming of Christ at the end of time, or at our death.

We have to remember that our life here on earth is only transitory, not permanent, and its purpose is for us to make a choice of whether we are for God or for ourselves only. The world is a place of trial for us.

God our Creator wants us to be with him. That's how he has created us. But he does not impose that will of his. We also have to make our choice to want to be with him. It's a free choice.

That's why our first parents who were created in the state of original justice, in the state of grace, were not immediately brought to heaven where they could be with God in a definitive way, but were placed in Paradise first to be tested, to see if they also want to be with God.

We already know what happened in that stage. And yet in spite of that blunder, God continues to love us by sending his Son to us for our redemption. That Son is Christ who shows us the way of how to handle our predicament to recover our lost dignity.

This time he shows us what to do. We have to follow him by denying ourselves, carry the cross and follow him all the way to his death, such that our death should be a participation of Christ's death on the cross. Our over-all attitude towards our earthly life should be shaped by what Christ has told and shown us, by what our faith tells us. It has to be an attitude that is theological, not merely social, or cultural, or political, etc.

In this business of denying ourselves since we have to follow Christ, we are told to be detached from the things of this world. This is made very clear with these words of Christ: “Sell your possessions, and give alms. Provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.” (Lk 12,33)

This does not mean that we should have no earthly possessions at all. We will always need things in this world, but seeing to it that these things do not become a god for us, but rather as means to love God and everybody else.

This truth is presumed when Christ told his apostles: “‘When I sent you out with no purse or bag or sandals, did you lack anything?' They said, ‘Nothing.' He said to them, ‘But now, let him who has a purse take it, and likewise a bag. And let him who has no sword sell his mantle and buy one.'”

In other words, we should not have superfluous things, creating needs that are really not needs, and thereby generating attachments that can be a hindrance in one's relation with God and with others.

Together with this call to detachment, Christ is telling us to be fruitful in this life. “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much,” he said, “and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” (Lk 12,48)

It's a call to generosity that he has reiterated many times, like in the parable of the talents, for example, as well as in the parables of sower and the seed, the tenants in the vineyard, and the different images he taught about the Kingdom of God. We need to trade and make a gain and an increase of what we have received from God.

And then we have to be generous in our self-giving. “Without cost you have received,” Christ said. “Without cost you are to give.” (Mt 10,8) With these words, we are told to give ourselves completely to God and to others, sparing and keeping nothing for ourselves, because God has been generous with us, and he will always provide everything that we need.

Our fruitfulness will depend on our proper detachment from things so we can be filled with nothing else than God himself and his power, wisdom and all other good things in abundance.

It's a fruitfulness that creates a treasure in heaven, “where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.” This is where our true joy and fulfillment lies. Let's not be deceived by the worldly standards and criteria of fruitfulness and real treasure.*

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