WE are reminded of this duty to pursue the ideal of unity of life in that gospel episode where Christ told the crowds and his disciples that while the leading Jews had taken their seat on the chair of Moses, they should do and observe what these leading Jews would tell them, but not to follow their example. (cfr. Mt 23,1-12) The reason? “For they preach but they do not practice.”
This, sadly, is a fact of life. We ourselves often can be accused of the same thing. We can be very good at preaching but poor in practice. We can be excellent in terms of theory and doctrine, but the aspect of morality is another story. Yes, it’s part of our human condition to fall into some forms of inconsistency and hypocrisy in our whole life!
But we should not be overly worried about this phenomenon. It’s not the end of the world. We can always do something about it. And in a sense, our whole life is precisely a matter of how we can achieve consistency and unity among the different aspects and dimensions of our life—the spiritual and material, the temporal and eternal, the theoretical and practical, the personal and social, etc.
What God expects from us is that we struggle against this lifelong predicament of ours. As long as there is some struggle, God would already be happy with us. We are not expected to perfect everything, because it will only be God who will do that for us, but also, with us.
In that gospel cited above, we are given an idea of how we can pursue this ideal of unity of life. And that is to be humble. It’s this virtue that would open us to the grace of God that in the end is the only way we can achieve this unity of life. Let’s forget and dismiss the idea that we can achieve this unity of life by our own efforts and powers alone.
This crucial virtue of humility can be developed in two ways: when we humble our own selves and when we are humbled by others or by some unavoidable circumstances. In that gospel cited above, Christ told the people that they have to humble themselves in the sense that they should avoid places of honor and privilege when invited to banquets, for example.
We have to realize then that any privilege, honor or praise given to us is a call for us to be more generous in our self-giving to such an extent that we would not run away from making the supreme sacrifice of giving our life for God and the others, just like what Christ did.
Our attitude should be to sharpen even more our desire to serve and not to be served. Christ made it clear to the mother and the brother-apostles, James and John, when he said, “The Son of man has not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mt 20,28)
Reiterating the same idea, he told them, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. Not so is it among you. On the contrary, whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.”
No doubt, with humility we can make progress in our quest for unity of life!