When I was young, I have learned in my catechism classes that there are three basic tenets in our Christian life so as to gain everlasting happiness with God in Heaven: to know, to love, and to serve God. I have observed that as one grows older, the said “childlike” tag line had seemed to be a mere precept sourced from an “old catechism school”, a remnant of our grandparents’ age, so to speak, which have already been forgotten and unheeded by many of us including the children and the children’s children.
Various factors could have contributed to the said shift in our religious beliefs and preferences; factors that are both external and internal to our respective environments. Apart from science and technology which could have adverse impact on us, the level of maturity and spiritual growth of each and everyone of us is likewise worth noting. If our spirituality is strong, developed and is considered essential in our lives, there is no reason why our faith and love for God, particularly our catholic faith, shall falter and be affected by any outside evil forces. If we seldom or do not cling to God anymore, our spiritual growth shall become crooked and tainted, focusing not anymore on our relationship with Him but on worldly success and recognition.
With technology advancement and the modern society that we are in, some of us would begin to adopt and rationalize our bad behavior, knowingly or unknowingly, prioritize on career growth over spiritual, relish on the world of rich and famous, and enjoy the influence of glitz and glamor, among others. There is nothing wrong in having all of these material successes and pleasures, it is part of our personal economic progress. But as my “ex-bf” wrote in his valedictory address years ago, “success should not be measured by money. Money is just a thing, and its value is relative. A beggar who spends his $10 to feed his family is richer than a man who saves money for the sake of saving money. Money is worthless until you spend it the right way. We become rich not because we have a lot of money, we become rich because we use our money the right way. True success is not just about money nor fame. True success lies beneath the value that we make out of the things that we have”. This, I think is one way where we could practice and apply the virtue of faith. The New Testament reminds us about Jesus’ response to a query posed to him regarding riches and renunciations. Jesus said, “ For it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God.”
These days, we too often hear high-falutin buzzwords like open access to information, freedom of speech, trade liberalization, globalization, human rights, consumerism, gender equality, empowerment and its variants. According to some experts, results would show that these policy statements have actually produced good effects on an ailing economy. There’s certainly nothing wrong with all of these especially if it’s for for the sake of a better economy, transparency and governance. However, some of us utilize the same to express only what we think, our selfish interests, preferences and prejudices and even to the extent of setting aside or ignoring our religious beliefs. This is where our Church comes in to remind us that we have certain rules to follow, rules that are not made by man but by God.
For all mankind, particularly Christians, this is the time for us to reaffirm our commitment to knowing, loving and serving God. At times, it is good to go back to our childhood days and reflect on it, the time when we are more closer to God, when we are more naïve of material things, when we stop whatever we do when we hear the Angelus bells ring at the distant church to pray. Aren’t all these beautiful? How I wish I wasn’t exposed to the outside world! But, that is the beauty and spice of life. We stumble, struggle, and fall. We are fortunate to be given the opportunity to rise up, do good and be a much better and improved child of God.
As I have conveyed to my CCD class before, faith is a supernatural gift from God. I jokingly told them, we have to pray and ask God for the gift of faith as they won’t be able to see and buy it in malls or in any online stores. The prayer corner which I made for them every time we meet served as a comforting place for the kids to tell God about anything they wished to say and I thought it was effective. If we are given with the gift of faith, we have to accept it, nourish and share it with other people through God’s words, good works and deeds.
A Happy New Year and A Happy New Faith to All!