By By Rev. Fr. Rommel M. Arcilla
Commitment to Love and Follow Christ
posted 24-Sep-2019  ·  
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“If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”

This statement of Jesus catches our attention because it seems to have leaped apart from the kind of person that He is. He taught about love of neighbours and even loving our very self, and now, this statement seems to be a contradiction to all His previous sermons and teaching.

In order for you to understand this very easily, I would like to relate to you a story, which is nothing else but the story of my own vocation.

It was during my elementary years, when I was in grade two, when I started serving the Cathedral as an altar boy. It was never planned and I was placed there to serve those rusty old priests because no one else was around and the sacristan mayor just told me to do the thing and he assured me he will instruct me with what to do while in the background. And so, it happened and I liked it. It was the beginning of my long vocation story and I got attracted to the priestly life because they never ran out of money to buy me ice cream and most of them have their own powerful motorbikes.

After graduating from elementary, I decided to enter the high school seminary in Tabaco City. My mother welcomed and was so glad with my decision, but not my father. He told me that I should not enter the seminary because I was an only son and I was the only chance to propagate his name down to the future generations by raising children of my own. He even asked me if I still love and respect him as my father, and if I will pursue with my plan, then I will be proving otherwise. I hope you can imagine the kind of situation and that biggest decision which I was made to do even during those younger and playful years of my life.

I entered the high school seminary without the full support of my late father. He did not even tried to send me off during that first moment of separation from them on that day I sailed to Tabaco City in 1985. Luckily for me because, between my father and my mother, it was my mother who’s got the bigger voice inside our house, and when my mother speaks, my father can only speak out his sentiments in his dreams and maybe with his friends.

I did not hate my father because he did not like my choice, but he hated me on that day I left the house for my seminary formation. Of course, I honestly knew it will not last long because I knew he loved me so much because I was an only son. When I came home for vacation, after three months, he did not say I word but he just embraced me so tightly and he was crying silently. I felt his great love for me in that embrace and I knew he was giving me a GO for my vocation to be a priest.

Seminary life was not that easy. It was like a torture for me especially when they would serve vegetables and all those stuffs which I never dared to taste inside our house. It was like a punishment when we were made to pull out those thorny weeds with our bare hands and made to clean those yellowish urinals using limited cleaning materials but expecting us to clean them and make them look like brand new. I just thought that maybe those priests were crazy.

I could still recall the time when, during my short vacations, one of my sisters grumbled and told my mother; “ngata ta pag uya an (referring to me) pirming masilam ang sila ta?” My mother explained to them that, in the seminary I cannot really eat those foods which I wanted to eat that’s why she would prepare my favourite foods on those short home visitations. Maybe they also understood my situation because I never heard any more complaints from them.

Before my father died, more than two decades ago, he gave me an assurance that it was fine with him that I pursue my vocation. “Adyan ka na, kaya daguson mo an.” Those were his exact words and, sad to say, he was no longer around to walk me down the Cathedral aisle with my mother for my ordination in 2000.

Christ requires our commitment to Him, if we really want to be His disciple. Nothing must stand in between us and Christ. We love our fathers and our mothers, our brother and sisters, our relative and friends. But in loving Christ, nothing and no one must stand in between because we must love Him and only Him. Let us always pray for courage and strength so that we may always give our consent to freely love Him and follow only Him all the days of our life.

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