“AMEN, I SAY to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.” (Mt 19,23-24)
Words of Christ that definitely will challenge us to die to ourselves, at least a little everyday, if only to comply with what he wants us to attain in our life. That’s simply because we always have the strong tendency to be by ourselves rather than to be with God as we ought. We seem helpless in our tendency to self-assertion, self-affirmation, and self-indulgence.
Let’s remember that even in the case of our first parents who were created in the state of original justice, when they enjoyed immortality, impassibility and integrity, they still managed to follow their own will rather than God’s.
You could just imagine how it is with us who are born already with original sin! And even if that original sin has been taken away by baptism, we still retain a certain attraction to evil, the so-called concupiscence.
Articulating this life-long predicament of ours, St. Paul once said: “I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” (Rom 7,19) Besides, St. Paul also said that we are ranged against very powerful bad spiritual powers. (Eph 6,12)
That is why, to save us from this condition, Christ had to offer his life on the cross, and taught us that we should deny ourselves and carry the cross. That is the formula to follow if we want to effectively deal with our wounded and sinful condition here on earth.
Anent this truth of our faith, the seraphic doctor, St. Bonaventure, had this to say: “Let us die, then, and enter into the darkness, silencing our anxieties, our passions and all the fantasies of our imagination. Let us pass over with the crucified Christ from this world to the Father.”
We should make it a point that everyday, there should be that process of dying to ourselves, even if it is just a little. Self-denial, the cross, even if in small matters, will go a long way in helping us deal with our innate concupiscence.
Let us always go to Christ and follow his way of dealing with our sinfulness. We have to reassure ourselves that he is actually always there for us, eager to help us. This truth of our faith should be kept carved deep and hard into our mind and heart, so we can always remain at peace and with great hope despite our weaknesses and sinfulness, and all the many other things that can cause us anguish—difficulties, trials, failures, setbacks, etc.
We should not delay in going immediately to God, asking for help whenever we find ourselves in situations of distress. God is our Father who will always listen to us, who will always show compassion to us, who will never fail us.
We may fail him many times, but he will always be understanding to us. We should be careful not to be too overwhelmed by our weaknesses and sinfulness as to fall into despair and run away from God. It’s precisely when we are down when God shows his greatest love for us. We should never doubt this truth which can be validated by the mere fact that God sent his Son to us, and the Son became man and assumed all our sins by dying on the cross. By Fr. Roy Cimagala (EV Mail August 15-21, 2022 issue)