“If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers, and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple… In the same way, anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.”
I can still vividly remember how my late father acted when he knew about my plan to enter the High School Seminary in Tabaco City, the St. Gregory the Great Seminary. It was one of the rarest moments when he would raise his voice in contradiction to my wishes. Well, it was on my advantage, though, that I had sought already the permission of my late mother before we revealed it to him that the following day, I would be away from them for the fist time to attend the seminary training.
I did not hate him for that, and he did not cease to love me for disobeying his will for me to stay and look for another direction in life. I loved him even more during those times when we were far apart. I knew he missed me because he even cried when I went home to visit him only after three months. He embraced me so tightly and I sang to him one of my favorite songs, “I’m Coming Home,” by Birtles and Goble. From then on, we became the best of friends and sometimes we were partner in crime.
Well, one thing I want to emphasize here is that I needed to disagree with him because I wanted to pursue a dream of becoming a follower of Christ in the priesthood. I believe, this fact qualifies me as a disciple of this demanding Master, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, speaking about the cross, we often associate it with difficulties in life that we encounter every day. We have our own problems, illnesses, sacrifices, and other negative things that we carry as a burden on our shoulders. No man is exempt from these loads and so we carry them every day, with the acceptance that these are part and parcel of our life.
Our cross is nothing more than our misery and our unfortunate situation which is, often, are a product of our failures, misguided decisions, and mistakes that we commit each day. My life is readily accessible to everyone and so I can say that I had my share of “carrying crosses” on my shoulders. The pain of separation from my parents and my sisters is one of those crosses which I carried because I decided to answer His call. I had my massive share of ill-decisions and mistakes that gave me various troubles and made me crazy. Again, I survived all those pains and difficulties, not because I am strong, but because of the immensity of God’s love for me.
Well, the last part of the Gospel passage, the renunciation of everything, seems to be the hardest part. Logically, because I was born into this material world as a normal human being. My ordination did not take away my attachments to worldly things and it not even got to the point of taming my raging libido especially when I was younger. My ordination did not make me like those beautiful angels who do not have the ability to commit sin.
But to be honest, I renounced plentiful things in my life that can be so valuable to other people. I did not remain in that “greener pasture” after I was sent on a foreign mission outside the Diocese of Virac. For other people, and even priests, money can become their master. I repudiated the temptation to leave the ministry and start a family instead, just to have trustworthy people around me to fall back on when I am nearing the “final call” to His Kingdom. Still, here I am, making myself available to serve the spiritually tortured and other people in need whom I do not even know who.
Now, I ask myself, am I a worthy disciple of the Lord? My answer in a big NO, or maybe NOT YET! I still have so many people to hate, or argue with, or even fight with, just to win their hearts back to the right direction that leads to God. I still have so many crosses to bear on my already bruised and aching body just for me to be like Christ who died on the cross for my salvation. And I still have important things to renounce and forget about even if those things are a world to me.
My Lord and my God, please make me a worthy servant and a self-less disciple. Please give me a heart to continue serving you as a priest for what ever it takes. Please make me worthy to enter your kingdom when I die because I did my best, even if my best is not yet enough, to follow you.