All Things To All Men
The subdued atmosphere of the post novitiate made me think a lot. Gazing at the cross, my thoughts ran to that lacerated body who willingly sacrificed himself in our place. It must have hurt a lot and much more. The pain of longing for an absent beloved excruciates. For Christ, it was the Father. He may have experienced the pain of losing the Father… because sin drove God away. “And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” (1 Peter 2:24).
We Catholics are called to be all things to all men. Just as our Master has given everything of Himself, to the last drop of blood, to the last ounce of breath, we are called to share who we are to everyone. It is this losing of our selves that we are distinguished from the world. The post modern man thinks only of the “I”, so he cannot understand us when we choose to do the seemingly foolish things of penance and prayer, of abstinence and self-control, of discipline and asceticism. When we have truly detached ourselves can we be emptied just as Christ was emptied on the cross. Only then can God have the chance to pour out Himself in us, to fill us, to overflowing and we are much more than what we thought we are.
We Religious are called to live this radically. We leave everything: our ordinary lives, our dear families, our raucous friends to follow Christ in obedience, chastity, and poverty. And people cannot help but ask us why throw away so many good opportunities, why live a very structured life, why bind ourselves with vows and rules and constitutions. We have to show them why. It is because of that Man who chose to live it radically that we let go of everything that we might mirror Him in us.
We Salesians are called to live this specifically. “For you I study, for you I work, for I live, for you I am ready even to give my life,” Don Bosco promised his boys. And so we ought to live it that way. Nothing must be spared if it concerns the good and salvation of a boy. We become teachers, drivers, carpenters, janitors, instructors, cooks, gardeners, musicians, nannies, writers, engineers, administrators, coaches, and just about anything for this noble mission. We are a little bit of everything. Most of all we are called to be fathers, brothers, and friends. For us, da mihi animas, cetera tolle.
Jesus was all things to all men, from the crib to the cross… from life unto death.