Detachment and discipleschip PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 04 September 2016 14:41



The organic connection between the two is clear. If we want to be followers of Christ, we need to be detached from the things of this world. Even more, we need to be detached from persons who are close to us. But don’t get me wrong. Such detachment actually leads us to our proper relation with them.

Christ said it clearly: “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.” (Lk 14,25)

But then he said in another occasion, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Mt 6,33) We also know that among the 10 commandments, the first among those related to our duties towards others, the 4th commandment, is that of honoring our father and mother.

We need to have a certain detachment from persons and things to be able to give our heart entirely to God, and with him, we actually have everything we need. As St. Teresa of Avila put it graphically, with God we have enough—“solo Dios basta.”

So the detachment our Lord is asking of us actually does not mean that we hate our life, our parents and others, and the things of this world. Rather it is a detachment that asks of us to have rectitude of intention, that everything that we do be for the glory of God.

St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians said as much: “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever else you do, do all to the glory of God.” (10,31)

We should not be afraid to detach ourselves from persons and things because such detachment is proper to us. It’s a prerequisite to be able to follow Christ closely, as we all should.

To be sure, such detachment does not compromise our proper attachment to the same persons and things. Rather it would enhance our relation with them, since it would be relation that reflects God’s love for everyone and everything.

In a certain sense, our earthly life can be described as a matter of emptying and filling. That is, emptying of our own selves, our own egos, so we can be filled with God, with love, which is what is proper to us.

In whatever we do, let’s see to it that this business of emptying and filling is the underlying law and principle that is being followed. Failing in that can only mean failing in our ultimate purpose in life, no matter how successful we may appear to be in our work or social and political life, and in the other aspects of life.

We need to adapt and develop the relevant attitude and skills so we can turn this ideal into a working lifestyle. We should not forget that Christ clearly said: ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” (Mt 16,24) That, in a nutshell, is the biblical basis for how detachment is indispensable for one to be a true disciple of Christ.

Christ himself, our way, truth and life, lived this principle perfectly by emptying himself so he can be filled with the will of his Father. He went to the extent of saying, “I do nothing on my own but say only what the Father taught me.” (Jn 8,28)

St. Paul expressed this fact in this way: “Christ who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.” (Phil 2,5-8)

Christ’s self-emptying cannot be overemphasized. Being the son of God with whom nothing is impossible, he chose to be born poor in a manger and led an austere life all throughout. Even in his impressive moments of preaching and making miracles, he did not want to be treated as a king or some kind of celebrity.

Detachment therefore does not remove our involvement and engagement in our earthly and temporal affairs. It simply puts them in the right context and the right direction. It frees us from unnecessary baggage. It improves our vision and understanding of things, and predisposes our heart to the real love which can only be a sharing in God’s love. It makes us Christ’s true disciple.