By Fr. Roy Cimagala
INCREDIBLE as it may sound, we truly have been created by God to be like him, patterned after his son who became man, Christ, so that we would have “the way, the truth and the life” to attain our ultimate goal of sharing the very life of God.
That’s how God wants us to be and we, on our part, should also want it for ourselves. And the means to attain that goal have been given to us abundantly. That, in fact, is the gist of the readings of these days of Easter where Christ acts as if trying his best to convince us that we should not only go to him but rather to be like him.
“Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me, and whoever sees me sees the one who sent me,” he said. “I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness.” (Jn 12,44-46)
We need to realize that we are meant to assume the identity of Christ. And that is not a gratuitous, baseless assertion, much less, a fiction or a fantasy. It is founded on a fundamental truth of our faith that we have been created by God in his own image and likeness.
And this truth of faith has been vividly shown to us, since it is acted out in the whole history and economy of salvation that culminated in Christ offering his life and his very own self as the Bread of Life so we can have the eternal life with him, and so that he and us can be one even while we are still on earth, though in an ongoing and not in definitive state yet.
But we have to arrive at that point where we can make St. Paul’s words as our own too: “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me.” (Gal 2,20)
We just have to learn to set aside whatever difficulty or awkwardness we may have in dealing with this basic truth of faith about ourselves. We have to try our best to know Christ and to adapt his very own mind and will, his own ways, behavior and reactions to whatever situation we may find ourselves in.
What is also clear is that Christ is actually already living with us. He is in us as the pattern and perfecter of our humanity, and the savior of our damaged humanity. We just have to learn to live with Christ. He is never far or indifferent to us. Even in our miserable and wounded condition, he continues to be with us, helping us with greater solicitude. It’s rather us who tend to ignore and contradict him.
And Christ gave us a concrete way of how we can be with him, or how he and us can be one. And that is simply to follow the new commandment that he gave us: “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another, that as I have loved you, you also love one another.” (Jn 13,34) It is that simple, albeit also quite challenging.
But with God’s grace, we can hack it. We just have to persist in following that commandment no matter what it takes!