We live in a culture that loves comfort. For many of us, comfort is synonymous with convenience, ease, relief, and even luxury. We love air conditioning, ATM’s, 24/7 stores, pain-relievers, amusement centers, fast food. With the advent of mobile smart phones, the internet, GPS, among other advances in technology, this obsession with comfort has become even more reinforced.
This love affair with the life of ease carries over into our spiritual life. We do not want to talk about suffering, sacrifice, the Cross. These make us uncomfortable. We do not see the joy of Holy Week, fasting, and the road called Via Dolorosa (the road of suffering) our Savior took. We want to feel good about ourselves. We want to have just enough of the Christian life to give us a little relief from our sense of guilt and be satisfied with a God who will make sure that our needs are met. We want the beneficial side of Christianity, but not the uncomfortable part.
Jesus Christ offers a different life.
Christ’s mission on earth was to reveal the character and ability of God to man in order that mankind may experience the life of greatness, which God intended man to have from the beginning of time. He offers us a chance to experience the JOY to participate in His work… to use the talents and gifts we were given in order to accomplish this. Yet, this work He desires to do in us is usually not comfortable, but it is always great.
Pope Benedict XVI has said, “…we were not created for comfort, but for greatness.”
“Great” here is not limited to those deeds and things that are considered by many as earth-shaking. It is not just the work of the famous, the scientists, the inventors, the newsmakers, the celebrities, or those in the limelight. It is more often the simple, mundane acts of kindness that we do for the benefit of others to the inconvenience and even risk of our lives … things done unnoticed and often ignored. Mga gawain na kadalasan ay hindi iyong magpapa-WOW ng tao, kundi iyong magpapa-WOW kay Lord! (Not those things that often amaze men, but surely amaze God!)
I think about the uncomfortable but great work I have been given to do—nourishing the souls of the students and faculty in our school, walking through a class in math or physical science to make the pupils understand concepts which they find utterly boring, facing the daily grind of commuting through the 25 kilometers that separates my comfortable home and the challenging work in the church and school, getting up at midnight to pray for people’s needs, learning to love my family, learning to love my Lord.
I think about the discomfort to sacrifice my own desires, of swallowing my pride in order to ask for forgiveness, of giving up my rights for relaxation while focusing on others’ needs. It is painful. But this is why God made me—so that my “self” whom I love so much could decrease and Christ and His life in me could increase.God has wonderfully fashioned each of us for greatness according to His purpose, to share in His life. He has made us for a life that will reveal the awe and wonder of His presence in us—not for success, not for comfort, but for greatness. And what He sees as greatness will likely be painful and uncomfortable.
Christ has lived it for us: He left the majestic glory of heaven and took on all the discomfort of being human so that we could know God intimately.
No one among us wants to suffer discomfort; it frightens us. But Christ also says, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Many times, those words do not make sense to us. But let us have the spirit of the Blessed Mother, who responded to the mission she was given by the angel of God to say, “Let it be done to me according to Your word.”
Saint Paul has said that we have been given the Holy Spirit of God, so that we might know the things that God has given us. This is our ticket to greatness. When we discover the true self whom God has intricately woven in us, when we find out our greatest potential that each one of us—male or female, young or old, wealthy or poor—possesses, we can be on the road to this greatness that God has set for us to live.
Some of us are hindered in this path to greatness because of fear— the fear of failure. We become like the servant who hid his talent in the ground because he was afraid of failure. Many young people will not embark on any new endeavor, terrified that it might not be successful and thus have to give up in the process. Even after knowing that God has placed those great desires in their hearts, they will not act, be it into marriage, to a calling or ministry in church, to a vocation, a new job, or to sacrificially give to others. They are paralyzed to take the steps to greatness ordained by the Lord.
The words of St Theresa of Calcutta will help us to overcome this fear. She said, “We are called to be faithful, not successful.” Let us walk with Christ in this road of greatness. May we yield to the guidance of God the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth, and onwards on the (sometimes uncomfortable) road to the great life.
writeup by Fr. Roberto Jorvina