By Fr. Roy Cimagala
“JESUS said to Philip, ‘Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?’ He said this to test Philip, because he himself knew what he was going to do.” (Jn 6,5-6)
With these words, we should realize that we should never doubt God’s constant love for us, especially when we encounter difficulties and severe trials in our life. God allows these things to happen if only to test us, that is, to see if we also truly love him in return, a love that is expressed in complete trust in God’s will and ways.
Yes, we have to be clear that there in nothing in our life, no moment or situation where God does not test us. We have to explode the myth that consists in the thinking that there are times when we are freed from this test. Even in our moments of rest and recreation, we are being tested.
And that’s simply because the only purpose of these tests is to see if we keep ourselves always with God as we should. In this regard, let’s remember these relevant words of Christ. “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.” (Mt 12,30) There is no neutral ground in our relationship with God. We are either for him or against him.
And being created in the image and likeness of God, we are meant to be always with God, much like what Christ himself said about the vine and branches. (cfr. Jn 15,5) Otherwise, we die in the sense of living a life that is not proper to us, like the branches that are separated from the vine.
So, we cannot overemphasize our need to do everything to always be with God. We know very well how easily we can think and live as if we can simply be by ourselves. Especially when life seems to be going well for us, we easily tend to take God for granted. We usually go to him only when we find ourselves with difficulties.
Yes, we have to understand that God’s tests us not only in our difficulties, but also in our good and easy moments of our life. In fact, the latter tests can be more difficult to tackle.
It’s always good to frequently meditate on what God has done for us, if only to enjoy the confidence he has put in us. This is to help us repay his love with our love. Thus, Christ told us, “Without cost you have received. Without cost you are to give.” (Mt 10,8)
For sure, with these words of Christ, we are strongly reminded to be generous, to give ourselves completely to God and to others, sparing and keeping nothing for ourselves, because God has been generous with us. He gave nothing less than himself to us. And he wants to share what we have with everybody else.
Thus, in Christ’s commissioning of his disciples that should include all of us, his believers and followers, he encourages us not to worry so much about what to have or what to bring. “Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts; no sack for the journey, or a second tunic, or sandals or walking stick. The laborer deserves his keep.” We need to develop a keen sense of generosity and self-giving that is also a result of detachment.