At Lenten time, the Christians are reminded to practice self-denial as taught and live by Jesus Christ.
Christ initiated the move to deny Himself: for a while, He negates His divinity by becoming man and, by doing so, He affirmed humanity. This is incarnation, His way of suffering, like a reversed exodus from the absolute state to the particular time in space. Christ’s self-denial is His desire to walk with man in his journey through life.
But man’s tendency is to walk alone, without Christ’s direction; he wants to be the sole master of his destiny.
Alone, without the company of Jesus, man tends to become a robot. The moview are now showing how the people are acting without their will. Man is inclined to adore the golden calf of technology; his eyes are glued to the screen of the video machine, his mouth is sandwiched in a tin car; his stomach is embattled by the instant ready-made stuff. Although wanting to be the master, he finds himself a slave of his own making.
Alone, in the absence of the Lord of life, man disrespects life; he is trying to raise a child in the laboratory, outside of wedlock; he wants to raise children of an anonymous personality, without a face, without identity, without a home.
Alone, without Christ who breaks bread, man becomes a voracious greedy monkey who wants to consume the resources of the earth without sharing with others, without replenishing. To his eyes, the environment (forest, sea, rivers, land, sky) is not a thing of beauty, but an enemy to be conquered, to be poisoned, to be plundered.
Alone, without the Lord of Order, man can invert the scale of values; what is luxury becomes a necessity.
Being alone is selfishness; it is suicidal act. Self-denial, allowing Christ to walk with us, is finding the right perspective of living.
Self-denial, when it is sincerely put into practice among the Filipinos, will greatly help recover our national posture. This virtue impels to uphold freedom and conscience and reject robotism. It rejects consumerism but challenges us to be creative and frugal. It demands of us to uproot imported mentality of prosperity which has turned us into beggars in our country. It challenges us to reject unnecessary, unsubstantial, junk stuff to pamper our appetite, and concentrate our effort to what is necessary.
The spirit of denial from those which do not enhance life is an imperative now than ever before. The spirit of acceptance what is pro-life is a mission. In the verdict of Jesus, “unless a tree dies, it will not grow.” In St. John’s confession, “I must decrease and he must increase.”