LOVE IT, LOSE IT… HATE IT, GAIN IT FOR ETERNITY
Rev. Fr. Rommel Molina Arcilla
We were told, time and again, to love our very own life. I really do not have any reasons to disagree because there is a wisdom that goes with it. We cannot give, as the saying goes, what we do not have. So, if we do not have enough love for ourselves, how can we really love other people? It is even taught in the Bible and it says: “Love others as you love yourself.”
However, just to tickle our brains and dig deeper to understand what LIFE really means, the Gospel last Sunday, the 5th Sunday of Lent, tells us that: “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.” So, I guess we need to understand that LIFE here, is presented on a much different picture, that is, our life as disciples of Christ.
I love myself so much that I wanted to be known by the whole world if possible. As a young boy, I got so attracted to driving motorbikes. I learned it the hard way, though, because of my countless accidents. I love myself so much that I wanted to earn the respect of other riders and the one person whom I want to be proud of my driving skills, my teacher who was also my father. Sad to say that I never heard those words of his admiration of my driving skills until he died. Just to please him, I rode my motorbikes to their limits and sent them into the air as if they had their wings of their own, with me on the driver’s seat!
Loving myself like that left me with broken bones and I am still wearing a titanium plate on my left arm. So much love for myself like that made me lose other skills which I may develop but only with healthy and normal arms. I lost them all because of that love of self.
I love myself and I wanted to win the hearts not only of women, but of all other people whom I get to know along the way. In order to do this, I needed to blend in with them and dance to their tune and music. This ambition to win them all, left me with 26 stitches on my stomach, when I had a pancreatic surgery due to alcohol abuse. I, again, lost the game because of love for myself.
I love myself so I wanted to be on the top of my world. To achieve this purpose, I befriended people who are powerful in their own fields. I sacrificed my priesthood and my principles just to assure them of my trust. Again, I lost and nearly lost even my priesthood, because I got carried away by the lure of money and power which they have, and these things are not supposed to be part of my life as a priest.
These are just example of how I loved myself too much and nearly lost everything, even my self-respect. I know you can relate with my experiences and I hope and pray that, one of these days, we will all realize what life really means, and be aware also of the more important ways of loving our very life.
If we had only hated our life in this world, maybe we have gained wonderful fruits already. Hating our life here on earth means going against the popular things that this world has to offer. Hating our earthly life is our turning away from everything that can lead us farther and farther away from Him, who is LIFE. It will mean our decision to follow only Jesus in our every action and in our every day life notwithstanding the circumstances and situations that we have.
Loving our life here on earth means protection of everything that we have even if it means destroying other people if they are a threat to our security and existence. This is probably the reason why nations are trying to destroy one another, self-preservation. This maybe is the reason why there is Covid-19, a kind of weapon for mass destruction and it is gaining and achieving its purpose. This love for one’s self, for one’s nation can be the destruction of our only world which was created by God out of love and saved by Him because of love.
Denying ourselves of worldly pleasures, powers and riches makes free to do anything especially those things that do not offer any material benefits. It may be seen as foolishness by those whose lives are governed by these worldly pleasures, but we simply have chosen the best part, and that part is to become a part of God’s kingdom on that appointed time.
When I started to go out into the streets to do what must be done as part of my ministry, without fear of catching the dreaded killer disease, it was also the moment that I felt protected by God because I am just trying to do what He wants me to do. All the people around me were also inspired and they started to go back to their normal way of life to support the daily needs of their families. I may sound like a suicidal person, but I am not! I am just a believer in God’s great love and power and He will do everything for His chosen ones. He is my vaccine and, even if I am not a “guapo”, I am “bakunado” with the love of God.
Our self-denial is a very hard thing to do, but it is so liberating that we can do all the good things that we can, with no known limits. You can enjoy eating with the poor ones with only your hands and never feel the fear of getting sick. You can enjoy walking down the streets at any time of the day or night without fear of getting robbed because you have nothing in you but only God. But if we do otherwise, loving ourselves too much, we may become prisoners in our own homes and we may become slaves of our own riches and power. There is still time, my friends, and let us do what needs to be done because we may not have the luxury of time in this crazy world we live in.