The one choice we must make
EVEN for the “most religious” among us, it is not that easy to latch on to God’s every word as we go through the hurly-burly of our daily life. Almost everything in our environment—especially in the metropolis—tells us that earning a living ought to be our most important concern, and that all our waking moments must revolve around it. And to be effective at earning a living, we must be and acceptable to the world, because our face, our appearance, is our calling card.
Advertisements reinforce this idea in telling us how to start our day: they nudge us to drink brand-X coffee if we want to be alert and productive from nine to five, to shower with brand-Y soap so that we’re germ-free all day, to use brand-Z deodorant in order not to offend the noses of fellow train passengers, to wear this or that style to project power, to drive this or that car, etc. etc. Media reinforce the dream that advertisers sell, lionizing “successful” people and their lifestyles, making the illusion so widespread that people thoughtlessly believe it is true.
The world offers us so many choices, but sets only one worldly goal—success—and so it teaches us that to be successful we must be smart. We have to be “cool” in everything we do, in choosing what to wear, say, and do; where to eat; what projects to do; whom to hang around with; which stocks to invest in; etc. In the way of the world, achieving “a happy and successful life” does not necessarily mean choosing to be ethical, moral, or even legal sometimes—we just have to be smart. But is this the way we should go as citizens of the “only Christian nation in Asia”?
In reality—come to think of it—there is only one choice we as baptized Christians have to make in order for us to live a happy, productive, and fulfilling life of dignity. There is only one forked road we have to face, and there we ask ourselves: shall I follow the will of God or only mine?
Choosing to follow God’s will over ours means recognizing our Creator, gratefully giving Him Number One position in our life, and embracing the truth that He has sent His Only Son to us in order to show us the way to life eternal. Earning a living may be important, but it is only so if that living points to another life. This world is beautiful, marvelous, and enjoyable, but it is only a stepping stone to the next.
Debunk the advertisers’ promises, puncture the illusions media propagate about having a “happy and successful life” as a human being’s worthiest goal. If we call ourselves followers of Christ we should let Him cleanse our system of false ideals and worthless models. Jesus came to live with us to show us lonely goal worth pursuing. Believing in the cause that Jesus died for, we are given the grace to live “on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God”—we are renewed, “re-programmed” to receive and be moved by the Divine.
This season of Lent, we take a break as we turn our back to the monsters that we have created by our inordinate belief in their worth—events, persons, things, news that give us nothing but bad vibes and tempt us to forget about God’s eternal love for us. These next 40 days, we pray even for a whiff of that strength that sustained our Lord in the desert against the devil’s temptations. It is not true that we are “only human” and therefore too weak to rise above the allurements of this world. We do have a choice. There is such a thing as transcendence, and because we are God’s children the desire for it is in our DNA, so to speak. This holy season of Christ’s passion, we pray to be able to make that one choice to transcendence. And that’s the truth.