Let me share with you a personal story. In the priesthood, one will never starve. Whether in joy or in pain, people will feed the priest. From birth to death, people will feed the priest. When there is a new restaurant, people are just so excited to feed the priest. Hence, it is not surprise that weight gain and all the related sicknesses are part of a priest’s life. The challenge to “deny” oneself of food that is not necessary is more real than ever.
If this is true in the material realm, this is also true in our spiritual life. Jesus in the Gospel talks about “Dying to oneself.” It is basically denying ourselves and our human tendency to be selfish and self-centered.
Three of the many denials we have to do every day:
- We can deny ourselves gossip and character assassination. Years before fake news on social media, there was already fake stories. We judge others based on our standards and the limited things we know about the other person. We delight in putting other people down because we feel better. We often forget that what we do to others, we do to Christ. Only God can judge because he created us and knows us fully.
- We can deny ourselves a more comfortable life. I came across a person who suddenly had an epiphany. She had a closet full of designer bags that was worth the equal of an upscale condo. The husband has a car collection that is worth another house. In the end we should ask ourselves, “what for?” We forget the saying, “To live simply so that others may simply live.”
- We can deny ourselves of emotional baggage. We Filipinos do not know the meaning of travel light. We bring so many things when we travel. We know this though: the lighter we travel, the more flexible we are with our travel plans and changes. So it is with life, how many of us go through life with so much emotional baggage – anger, hurt, lack of forgiveness, resentment.
In every Mass we pray for the grace that we may deny ourselves so that:
- We become less self-centered and be more sensitive of others and their needs.
- We realize that in life it is not all about “I-me-myself.”
- We remember that God has a plan for each and every one of us, including using us for that plan to come to fulfillment.