Your own specific task, and the special responsibility given to you by the Lord is to find your own sanctification in the world, and to sanctify the world and transform it so that this world becomes more and more God’s world, God’s kingdom, where his will is done as it is in heaven.
– Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)
All over the Metro, students are experiencing a long weekend because today is a no-classes day. The reason? Today, 20 January 2014, is the National Day of Prayer and Solidarity: One Nation in Prayer. Although it is, incidentally (or not), also the date of the 13th anniversary of EDSA II, Malacañang, who organized today’s event and will lead a prayer program later at 5:00 pm, did not make any mention of such. Today is to commemorate Typhoon Yolanda victims and their recognition of the grace of God, who will be leading us to a brighter tomorrow.
It is also in line with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) declaring late last year that this year would be the Year of the Laity, a way to emphasize and empower the Catholic laity that make up the most part of our predominantly Catholic society to push on with their efforts in the “sanctification and transformation of the world”.
Obviously, not all of us become members of the clergy. Not all of us become husbands and/or fathers. Not all of us become rich and famous the way celebrities across the world have glamorized the high life. If all of us became the same, then society – and creation – would be boring, too monotonous, and not realize its full potential as God wants. We all each have our own characteristics, our own beliefs, our own interests, our own passions and dreams. And often, pursuing such fulfillment of our potential as programmed by God into the software that is our lives requires some sort of sacrifice on our part – a trade-off of some comfort or a lesser desire that leads to the granting of a much greater, long-term one that eventually defines our lives the way we have been called to do so.
But while all of us have purposes in fields and walks of life as numerous as the droplets of water in the Pacific, all of us are also drawn together in one unifying force: the power and love of our God, whose will we are carrying out by going into these holistic careers of life. This is a beautiful insight of our existence that is recognized by many across the world, chief among them the clergy, and that is why they have declared this Year of the Laity.
In a very broad definition, all we who are not part of the clergy are part of the laity. As I quoted above from the CBCP’s announcement of the YotL, the Lord has called us to answer to His ring for whatever we are to do as His stewards of creation – then do our very best in those areas only for the sake of further glorifying Him. Whether it be in the entrepreneurial efforts we exude, the lives we literally save as doctors or figuratively do so as lawyers, or just by ensuring that our children grow up to receive proper training in the ways of creation and in turn answer their calling, we all have a purpose as a child of God. Now, it is up to us whether to follow it or not. God does not force us to do so for that would render the whole point of our earthly lives moot, but invites us to listen then make a choice.
The CBCP had a very valid point when they expressed concern that today’s social problems are due to a disconnection between how we profess our faith, and how we act it out – or rather, how we not act it out. And it is not just in the Philippines; it is a global malady. Many of today’s corrupt politicians and businesspeople are supposed to be practicing Catholics who go to church weekly and give alms. What these Pharisee-like hypocrites fail to appreciate is that their ritualistic actions are merely façades that disguise their true character – and that though they may fool the world, God knows everything.
I also came across a very interesting blog entry where CBCP president Archbishop Socrates Villegas expresses his concern that members of the laity want to serve in the altar for prestige, for glamour, for reputation. Both Archbishop Villegas and the blogger criticize these desires, saying that the laity have – paradoxically, it may seem – lost sight of their calling and the bigger picture of what God wants them to do. These misguided sheep, we might say, ostensibly pursue their vocations only for their self-interest, that they may be exalted on earth – but definitely not in heaven. They would like to be seen by others “doing good” rather than work from behind the scenes truly doing good. I don’t think this even reaches CSR 1.0 level.
I myself sometimes struggle with this – the desire to be rich and famous, I will confess, is still strong within me. But – and I will say this as a reminder to all of us, laity or otherwise – power and prestige should be seen merely as bonuses to our work, the real reward of which should be joy that we are doing God’s will. The next time we complain we are just the salt in a soup, rather than the stock or the meat, maybe we should step back and reflect that we still contribute to the soup tasting delicious (and Christ also said that we are the salt of the earth!).
Remember: True pursuit of God’s will for us lies in quietly but wholeheartedly doing our part for the common, greater good, and keeping in constant touch with Him so that we don’t lose our way and forget.
So, let’s not forget to pray and talk to God tonight to guide our lives. 🙂