Jos 24:1-2.15- 17.18; Ps 34; Eph 5:21-32; Jn 6:60-69
You don’t have to understand all the implications of your decision when you choose to follow Jesus. You simply need to respond to his invitation, to make a commitment to follow Christ. Your commitments shape your life more than anything else. Your commitments can develop you or they can destroy you, but either way, they will define you. Tell me what you’re committed to and I’ll tell you what you’ll be in twenty years. We become whatever we’re committed to.
– Rick Warren
Kung titignan po ninyo sa Tagalog-English dictionary o sa Google translate, ang Filipino daw ng Commitment ay pangako. Hmm hindi ako masaya sa ganyang translation kasi there are those who make promises pero wala namang commitment, ‘di ba? Ang nakikitang matingkad na elemento ng commitment ay ang kamalayan (consciousness), sarili (self), ang sigasig (passion) at katapatan (faithfulness). Kaya gumawa na lang ako ng Filipinong salita para sa commitment: “ka” for kamalayan, “sa” for sarili, “sig” for sigasig and “tan” ang hulapi for katapatan. Ang salita ay kasasigatan for commitment. To commit oneself sa Filipino ay ikasasigat ang sarili. Ang state of commitment ay kasasigatan.
There are many issues about commitment we can cover but let us just focus on three: The Commitment to Affirm, to Forgive and Love in Anonymity. The heart of today’s readings speaks of committing oneself to serve the Lord (1st reading Jos 24:1-2.15- 17.18), to love as Christ loves ( 2nd reading Eph 5:21-32) and to be an unshakeable witness of Christ, who has the words of eternal life (Gospel Jn 6:60-69).
Giving all that you have, not more than you have. Being committed does not mean giving what you don’t have. Love as you can, not as you can’t. Commitment requires that you give 100% – not more, certainly not less.
Working with determination, not waiting on destiny. Committed people don’t rely on luck, fate or destiny for their success. They know that trying times are no time to quit trying!
Quitting when the job is done, not when you’re tired. When wrestling a gorilla, you don’t quit when you are tired-you quit when the gorilla is tired! If you want your mission work to succeed, among all other things, you have to keep pushing beyond what you think you can do. It’s not the first but the last step in the relay race, the last shot in the basketball game, the last mile in the cycle race into the finish line that makes the difference, for that is where the game is won.
Remembering that true success is first measured by faithfulness even in anonymity.
THE COMMITMENT TO AFFIRM
We probably are not used to it. I am not very used to it myself. Conversing with people, with friends, with colleagues – sometimes, I realize it after the quick chat. No affirmations ever transpired. That’s okay, I think. Normal. But what is exactly the “norm” or the “rule”? Hmmm Being a person – the norm is to “sound (sonare) through (per) ” – to express, to communicate (to cum +uno, be one with). Kailangan bang maging bolero? (Do you have to be a flatterer?) Of course not. You just have to be fully alive! An affirming person doesn’t even have to open his/ her mouth to affirm. Just being around one, other people get strengthened by their presence! I was so affirmed the moment I touched and kissed the hand of Mother Teresa of Calcutta years ago when she visited us in the Seminary! Such an affirming presence! When I kiss the children and give them a bear hug after every mass, I hope to be an affirming presence too. Affirmation is lived and learned; not necessarily spoken. A smile. An embrace. A pat on the shoulder. A touch of the hand. When kids ask your hand to bless them, that is an opportunity to affirm! You can at least utter, “May God bless you!” Even the deaf affirm by signing “Thank You!” That is the Christian norm I suppose. Where is its source? The Eucharist! Jesus! Who needs to hear you say “I LOVE YOU” today?
THE COMMITMENT TO FORGIVE
I drive an automatic vehicle. Even if I first learned to drive a stick-shift from a driving school, I totally forgot how to drive a stick-shift vehicle. I’d be uncomfortable with it na. Ganun din tayo siguro when it comes to forgiving others.
Our automatic response is not to think about forgiveness at all. Kung darating man doon, medyo later na sa kwento, pag medyo rock-bottom na ang relationship and we can’t handle the reactions anymore, kaya we turn to God. hmmm Normal? Again, not so. The rule is to forgive always, immediately and with joy. Mahirap? Sinabi mo. Siguro kaya tayo nahihirapan kasi hindi natin na re-realize how much God loves and forgives us. Siguro lang naman. Kasi some people still have difficulty forgiving others kahit pinatawad na siya ni Lord sa marami niyang kasalanan. Stubborn? Maybe. One thing is sure, forgiving takes a lot of practice. We are not born with it. Even as we talk about it now, maya-maya, mayroon na namang opportunity to forgive then we shift to automatic mode of lashing back at the person and, worst, kinda getting even, accompanying it even with the “sanest” excuses we can find: like “e papaano siya matututo?” “dapat lang sa kaniya yun, hindi naman ako nagkasala e, siya.” Looking at my high school graduation picture, I had chosen this wonderful quotation for publication in our annual book: “A spoonful of honey catches more flies than a barrelful of vinegar.” hmmm Rings true for always! Gusto mo palang matuto siya? Be the honey of forgiveness. Di ka sanay? You feel like a sissy? Think about it, baka di tayo talaga normal after all.
♥ Let us pray that God may continue to touch hearts to avail of God’s mercy through the sacrament of confession and that priests may be truly approachable and available to dispense of this great grace of Divine Mercy.
THE COMMITMENT TO LOVE
The true test of commitment to love is to love in even in anonymity. Hindi naman pwedeng palaging anonymous yan. Exceptional cases sometimes demand that we remain committed even when no one is looking but God and your angels. Tama rin naman si Rick Warren, we become whatever we’re committed to. You are committed only to work and earning a living? You become functional. You are only committed to mundane activities like building buildings and edifices, kahit ba simbahan pa yan, then you become a stonewall marker. hehehe lapida ba kaya.
Or your commitment is to the Person of God. Then, you become a fully human and fully alive human person! That’s our Omega!
♥ May we be more committed to the Person of Love than just to the idea or concept of love. That we may not end up being epitaphs of greatness through our projects and activities alone, but real human sacraments of a Loving Embracing God. That we may genuinely be committed to love even in anonymity.
♥ Let us pray that all Catholics may be Affirming Presences to others. Syempre, kasama sa prayers na ito, let us also beg the Lord to grant us Full Responsibility for our Words. Let everything we say be reflective of the affirming love of God for us. Hindi ridiculously impossible yun! Just think Teresa of Calcutta or John Paul II!
O paano ba? Kape muna tayo!