For what do you live?

by Paul Yeung

It is natural that we human beings have desires. A person without any desire soon loses one's purpose to live. In such a condition, one can't last very long. In fact, when God created us, He put a desire in us that cannot be satisfied by anything else on earth except Him. It's a thirst that draws us back to Him. His ultimate desire is to be with us forever, through which He wants to give us nothing but the very best. 

Sadly, most of us do not go to this fountain of life to quench our thirst. We rely on ourselves or go to other earthly sources to satisfy our insatiable desires. As the fears of the future continue to feed our insecurity, we are helplessly sucked into an endless desire to have more and more, like the rich man in the parable. Because our time on earth is finite, the more time we spend on the lesser thing, the less fulfilled we become, and the further away we are from God. Consequently, we will continue to dig deeper into our misplaced priorities. This vicious cycle sometimes needs divine intervention to be broken. 

500 years ago, this happened to a soldier by the name of Ignatius when he was struck by a cannonball. That began his conversion journey which had finally shaped him to become what is now known as St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the now biggest religious order, Society of Jesus, to which Pope Francis belongs. Should Ignatius remain attached to, and keep chasing after fame, power, wealth and all sorts of worldly desires as he once did, he would at best become a famous General on the battlefields, killing countless enemy soldiers in his short lifetime. He would not have been saving many souls instead with the legacy of his rich Ignatian spirituality that he developed, and the tremendous contributions made by the numerous Jesuits throughout the ages.

A "cannonball moment" such as Ignatius' is not the only way nor is it preferable by most people for us to change course. Nonetheless, the process always requires great determination on our part. Needless to say, a complete conversion like Ignatius' will not happen overnight. It is a lifelong process that is  shaped by and will shape our outlook on life. A continuous renewal is only made possible if we follow St. Paul's instruction to put to death whatever in us that is earthly. Life is short. We harvest only what we have planted. 

How would you like to spend the rest of your life? To toil under the sun, without meaning, to accumulate more and more of the temporal treasures that will one day perish, or things that will last, are rich towards God, and can carry us into eternal life? While we still have time, let us choose what is right and do what is worthwhile in God's eyes.

As we close the Ignatian Year that marks the 500th Anniversary of St. Ignatius' conversion, let us also ask for the intercession of St. Ignatius of Loyola to help us make up our mind to waste no time, responding promptly and firmly to God's call to desire more and more of Him and heavenly riches and less and less the things that are earthly and futile. 

For whom do we live?

St. Paul reminds us to imitate the selfless nature of Jesus by dying to ourselves, and striping off our old self with its practices. That is our gateway to become more sensitive to the deeper values in life, to others' needs, and to the ultimate relationship for whom we are created. 

Our lives are ransomed by a hefty price. Make it worthwhile!