Monday, 31 January 2011
"...people will always have need of God..."
"Where people no longer perceive God, life grows empty; nothing is ever enough."
"God is alive, and he needs people to serve him and bring him to others."
These were the lines that struck me as I read the opening paragraph of Pope Benedict's letter to seminarians all over the world dated 18 October 2010. We were to reflect on his letter during our seminary's recent recollection to prepare us for the new semester ahead.
As usual, I sauntered through the familiar seminary grounds pondering over these words, until I caught sight of a statue of Mother Mary standing pristinely near the entrance of our seminary. Slowly, it began to dawn on me that Mary would be the first person throughout history to ever show us how to bring Jesus to others, for she was the chosen one to carry Jesus in her womb, and to eventually bring Him into the world. And while Jesus was still in her womb, wherever she went, she brought Jesus to whomever she met. This we saw when Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth, whom her son John the Baptist leapt for joy in her womb the moment Mary's greeting sounded in her ears.
Although none of us will ever get the chance to carry Jesus in our wombs, at least definitely not for the guys, but each time we receive Jesus in the Eucharist, Jesus is allowing us to bring Him under our 'roof', where we become living tabernacles carrying Jesus wherever we go, bringing Him to whomever we meet. This can take place more freqently and effectively when we celebrate and participate in the Holy Eucharist more regularly and fervently, as well as when we draw closer to Jesus throught time spent with Him in prayer.
Conversely to how a child in a mother's womb depends on the life of the mother to stay alive, and even takes after the character and personality of the mother as he grows up, we instead depend on Jesus whom we carry within us to remain 'alive', and also take after His character and virtues, and even more so His image and likeness, as we grow whilst staying connected to Him. As Jesus tells us in John 15:5 - "As long as you remain in me and I in you, you bear much fruit; but apart from me you can do nothing." By allowing Jesus to remain in us, and we ourselves remaining in the love, likeness and image of Jesus within our hearts, we not only bring Jesus to others, people meet Jesus through our reflection of Him, and that's when God for them slowly begins to come alive in their hearts.
In light of my occasional desire for a family of my own, I reflected on how Mary remained a virgin and gave up her human desire to bear children of her own through human means. Yet in return, she bore Christ within her through spiritual grace, and became Mother of all mankind, which more than compensates not having children of her own flesh. As Mother of the Church, she doesn't just give life to a few children, but she gives life, through Jesus, to all her spiritual children - the world.
As I look at my own surrendering of my human fatherhood through a life of celibacy, I find consolation and even great joy in the spiritual fatherhood I may possibly be given in return, to father over my spiritual children who form the Church. I may not give life to a few children of my own flesh and blood, but I may one day be giving life to my spiritual children in numbers more than I can ever imagine myself having in a lifetime. When that day comes, not only will I be bringing Jesus to others through the way I live my life leading towards the image and likeness of Christ, I will also be the one bringing Jesus in the Eucharist to them, so that they too can carry Jesus under their 'roof', and bring Him into the world.