Our best can still be better PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 13 December 2015 15:14



We need to digest this point well. Our best efforts can still be made better. In fact, it should be the case, otherwise we stand to get spoiled ourselves. This is doable because, in the first place, we are actually meant, designed and equipped to do it.

While we have limits in the physical and material aspects of our life, we have to realize that there actually are no limits in our spiritual life. In that area, we can always do more and better, even if that would mean our death.

We need to understand that this is a basic law of our life which is always a work in progress, a journey toward our ultimate goal who is God, from whom we come and to whom we belong. In this life, we can and should never say enough. We just have to move on, not only keeping and defending what so far we have achieved in our spiritual life, but also improving on it.

We can never say we are already humble enough, prudent enough, chaste enough, holy enough, etc. We have to continue aspiring and improving in these virtues, because they themselves somehow attract and create new frontiers to be crossed.

Christ himself has given us the exemplar. When the time for his total self-giving finally came, he gave himself to it without fear, all the way to the last drop of his blood. “Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” (Jn 13,1)

In his priestly prayer just before his arrest, he reiterated that total self-giving in these words: “For their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth.” (Jn 17,19) And finally, “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (Jn 19,30)

Christ gave himself to us from beginning to end of his earthly life in a crescendo of self-giving. This is the pattern that we also have to follow in our life. The driving force is the power of love that has God as its source and end. This is the only love that knows no limits. It can even include our enemies in its scope. It is the very substance of human and Christian perfection.

We should always be wary of our tendency to be contented with whatever good we may already have accomplished. We can easily fall into complacency, enjoying our comfort zones, and expecting more privileges, perks and other entitlements. And so, what was good in the beginning becomes spoiled and bad in the end.

We need to demand on ourselves more and more. For this we would need tremendous humility, that self-emptying that reflects the self-emptying of Christ himself, for it is only with humility that we can accept the hard reality that we need to give ourselves more, that we can still demand more on ourselves.

It’s pride that blinds us to this necessity that is motivated by love and facilitated by humility. To the extent that we are willing to fight against pride and grow in the virtue of humility, can we convince ourselves that we can and should demand on ourselves more, and that it is possible and doable.

Real love would make us feel sharply that we should never rest on our laurels. It would convince us that it is dangerous to do so. It will always spur us to do more. If we don’t feel this urge, we have reason to suspect the authenticity of our love. We may just be ‘loving’ our own selves, which is precisely what love is not, since love has God and others as its proper object.

This is where the ascetical struggle is needed, that lifelong combat with our own selves who tend to be self-satisfied and self-absorbed. That is why Christ recommends to us that we deny ourselves and carry the cross. “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” (Mt 16,24) And he continues, somehow indicating to us that we should never get contented with our achievements, and just continue improving: “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it. But whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Mt 16,25)

That is why, even as we do our best in any endeavor, we should never forget that our best can still be better.