Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lenten Reflection on Giving

by Fr. A. R. Arboleda, SSP

A giant tree in an uninhabited jungle, a saying goes, doesn’t make any noise when it falls. The giant tree makes no noise because there is no one who hears it fall.

A man who lives by and for himself alone would be like that giant tree in the jungle. When he dies who would miss him? Who would remember him? What would be his life’s worth?

Jesus spelled real human greatness when he said, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15:13).

This is one measure of greatness which is truly universal. It is a measure that goes beyond race, color of skin, culture, age, sex, wealth, and what have you. Anyone can lay his life down for his friends. All it takes is that greater love one puts into it, a love which is greater than one’s own self, a love which is capable of giving till “it hurts.”

In any state of life, the crucial point is really one’s ability to die to self, to lay down one’s life so that one’s friends, the person one loves, might have fuller and more meaningful lives.

It is sad that a good number of people end in marriage not really because they look at it as a real vocation wherein it is possible to live up to the measure of love Jesus proposed, but more out of desire to possess the person loved or, worse, because of convenience or because they have no choice any longer.

Marriage is a genuine vocation to which young couples have to give considerable thought and period of preparation. It is ever so easy to say, “I love you,” and “I do,” but it takes more than just human capacities to be able to translate these words into a lifetime commitment.

There are those who choose to forego marriage and commit themselves perhaps to the noble profession they exercise, or even just to the task of helping parents, brothers and sisters and trying to lift them up from a life of privation. At times they go through extreme sacrifices only to feel as if shackled by the seemingly unending and growing demands from them. At times they even feel they are doing a thankless job. These persons are like the seeds in the Gospel which have to die in order to give life to the plant.

And there are those who, feeling they are called to the religious or priestly life, take seriously the thought that their vocation is to singularly live Jesus’ ideal of love: to lay down their lives for their friends. When one tries to live such an ideal, he will find very real obstacles too: obstacles from outside, like times when he comes to discover how precious really are the things he has renounced. It takes some heroism to live such a life.

Jesus’ measure of real greatness isn’t that simple and easy. Strangely though, within the folds of a life of giving there is so much joy.

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