Out of Love

         Once I was talking to one of the Altar Servers of a certain parish. In the course of our conversation he shared candidly, with a tinge of humor, his experience in serving. There are actually many functions one can do in serving at the Eucharist. One may assist the priest at the altar, another can be a candle bearer, or a thurifer who carries the metal censer with burning charcoal for the incense. But the task he likes best is to be the crossbearer.
During Mass, the crossbearer is the person appointed to carry the processional cross and stands at the head of the pack at the beginning or end of the service. When I asked him why, he explained that when he carries the cross everybody looks at him. People bow to him and he feels so popular! I realize we can do certain things for God with suspect motives. Carrying a “real” cross will not always be that popular and fantastic!
The Gospel few days back (Lk 9:7-9) spoke of Herod the Tetrarch who wanted to see Jesus out of curiosity. He must have been intrigued by the fame and popularity of Jesus. Surely, he heard about his miracles and was amazed by the authority of his teachings. But he was seeking for Jesus for wrong reasons. Aside from mere curiosity, people can come to God for other wrong reasons. Some because it’s the fad or fashion; like wearing a cross as a jewelry. Others because they feel popular as having a “selfie” with a celebrity. Some come to God to get a favor or a grace. And still others because it is fun and “cool.” But following Jesus goes beyond the crowd.
In reality, we have always the tendency to do things for wrong reasons. We can serve for  ulterior motives. It’s the impression people have toward our public servants in government. The cycle continues and the cynicism for a better country deteriorates. We can also love and get married for wrong reasons; then regret that one has followed his heart and one’s impulses too soon. We can work for wrong reasons such that at the end of the day, one feels empty for having slaved himself for the paycheck. We can even pray and worship not really for God’s sake but to please other people.
          The great challenge is to seek Jesus with faith and consciously do things out of love for God. More than expecting what we can get, Jesus will ask us what we can give. He will demand what we can surrender or what we can offer to Him. More than our time, the greatest offering we can do is to give our life to Him! More than our talent, the most significant things we can offer is our self-surrender; handing over our life to Jesus. To live for God and honor Him is a personal project worth our entire commitment.
          The example of martyrs like St. Lorenzo Ruiz and his companions are a beautiful reminder. He followed Jesus despite the inconvenience of being a “cross bearer.” Lorenzo joined the Japanese mission for wrong reasons. It was to escape from false accusation that he accompanied the Dominican priests. But the grace of God touched him. When the trying moment came, his reasons were purified. He became more than willing to suffer the torture. He was able to show that his love for Jesus was greater than his chance for survival. He offered his life and love for Jesus! However, few are really called to die for God. Majority of us are simply called to live for God in our daily lives in patience and extraordinary love.
          The Gospel today (Lk 16:19-31) describes two different characters, the unknown rich man and the poor Lazarus. Jesus’ parable warns us that a life of self-service will have its due consequences. Love binds us to be concerned and sensitive to the plight of our needy brothers and sisters. We are to discover God in them. Here is a thought from Pope Francis. Last August, the first-ever “Papal Selfie” appeared and went viral on social media. It was uploaded by one of the youngsters from the Diocese of Piacenza who met with the Pope. He told them: “You are bearers of hope. You, in fact, live in the present, but are looking at the future. You are the protagonists of the future, artisans of the future. Make the future with beauty, with goodness and truth. Have courage. Go forward. Make noise.”        
 
(This article also appears in the Faith Section of Cebu Daily News – September 29, 2013)
Disclaimer: This section of the website is a personal creative writing of the author and does not necessarily reflect the official views, opinion, or policies of the Salesians of Don Bosco – Philippines South Province. For concerns on the content, style, and grammar of this piece, please contact us.

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