7 March 2019. Thursday after Ash Wednesday
Reflection (Sem. Ryan Tristan O. Digan)
Following Jesus entails great love and sacrifice. One must be willing to let go of worldly desires and be committed to pursue the path of holiness even if it calls for death. However, death here is not just about the end of human life. There is a deeper meaning of death that I realized in my formation as a priest-in-process. When I was preparing for my entrance in the seminary, I thought of our gospel today. I told myself that becoming a seminarian at my age would be my greatest response to God’s call. Having worked for more than ten years, holding a managerial position and enjoying the comforts of life and freedom outside, I thought that that was what Jesus was referring to when He said that, “one must suffer greatly if he wishes to follow Me.”
However, I have forgotten the other words in the gospel, or maybe I intentionally did not just think about it because it doesn’t sound nice to me for it would mean not just one time suffering but a life-long one. I realized, seminary life is hard. Here, I get to experience being humbled in front of higher year brothers who are very much younger than me. If outside, I am the boss and I am the one who makes corrections, here I am the one being corrected. If outside I can go wherever I want to go, here, our mobility is limited. If outside I can buy the things that I want to have, here I need to discern first if it has apostolic value. If outside I can easily express my anger through my face or my voice, here emotions should be dealt with in a more appropriate and Christian way. There are so many things that I need to adjust to and so many things that I need to change. What I mentioned are just a few of my everyday experiences of sacrifice and death. It is sacrifice because I no longer think of myself alone and it is death because I have to die to my unlimited worldly desires and focus myself only to God so that I would desire nothing more but the richness in heaven.
Human as I am and being who I am for 35 years, I know it would not be that easy for the coming years to be molded and to be formed but I know also that God will never leave me, I just have to trust Him and surrender myself to Him for after all, it is Jesus who called me to this vocation.
The Gospel Today
Jesus said to his disciples:
“The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected
by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised.”
Then he said to all,
“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
What profit is there for one to gain the whole world
yet lose or forfeit himself?”