It is Gospel passages like “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” that convince many of us that Christianity must always be a solemn religion. This passage makes us think that it is forbidden to laugh in the Church. We have the mistaken notion that it is forbidden to clap in Church because religion is a serious matter and therefore, no laughing matter.
It is true that religion is a serious matter and following Jesus is a serious matter, but being serious does not mean being negative. Christianity is not simply about being solemn and being serious and giving up and sacrificing all the time. Christianity is positive. It carries a positive lesson. It brings out in us a positive outlook. What is this positive outlook?
This Gospel text does not speak about negative things. It speaks about God’s plan for us. What is that plan of God for us? Based on the Gospel, First, God wants us to live life fully. God does not want a mediocre life. God does not desire for us a half-baked life. God’s will for us and plan for us is fullness of life.
The second plan of God that surfaces very clearly is that we must love deeply. Live fully, love deeply. And the third plan of God for us is related to the first and the second. You must let go cheerfully. Live fully, love deeply, and let go cheerfully.
First, live fully. What do we mean when we say we must live life to the full? It means being heroic. It means being ready to go the extra mile even if the law does not require it. Every Christian is called to be a hero. Every Christian is called to be generous. Every Christian is called to go all the way without hesitation all the time. That is the key to heroism. These are the keys to sanctity generosity, living life to the full, celebrate with life. It is not forbidden for us to celebrate life. We must enjoy life, this life given to us by God.
Second, love deeply. We say that we love with the heart. Some of us blurt out statements like, “I don’t love her anymore.” or “I don’t love him anymore.” Actually, what we mean is “I don’t feel the joy and pleasure of loving anymore.” When the Lord says to us that we must love deeply, the Lord is telling us to go deeper than the heart, to go deeper than the feelings. Examining the structure of our body, going deeper than the heart means going the guts. Deeper than the heart lies our sikmura. In fact, in oriental religions, the focus of the body, the core of the body is not the heart but the guts. It is the core. It is the sikmura and it is the kalooban. When the Lord asks us to love deeply, the Lord is asking us to love more than feeling, to love with our guts, to love with our sikmura, even if that should go empty. But we know that it is only in loving deeply that we can also live fully.
The third point is, we must let go cheerfully. We must carry our crosses cheerfully. The Lord is asking us to be happy, not necessarily to be merry all the time. To be merry is to sing and dance and to smile all the time and to crack jokes all the time. But there are times when we cannot crack jokes and yet, we can still be happy. We can still be joyful because of the Lord in our hearts. Let us never ever doubt that we are the most precious creation of God. Because of all the places that God can choose to dwell, God has chosen us to be His dwelling place.
Live fully, love deeply, and let go cheerfully. One final word, the Lord says to us in the Gospel, “Carry your cross.” Carry your cross, don’t just drop it. Carry your cross, don’t leave it anywhere. Carry your cross, don’t give it away. Carry your cross, don’t divide it into pieces. Carry your cross. The way we carry our crosses is by living life to its fullness, loving deep within us, and letting go cheerfully. It is so complex and yet it is so simple. The simplicity comes from God. It becomes complex because we make it so.
LIVE, LOVE, LET GO
Love Like Jesus