Moments: Letting go
By Fr. Jerry Orbos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:04:00 06/26/2010
MANILA, Philippines—The story is told about a little girl who became restless as the priest’s sermon dragged on an on. After some moments she whispered to her mother “Mom, if we give him the money now, will he let us go?”
In today’s Gospel (Lk. 9, 51-62), Jesus teaches His followers one of the basic requirements of discipleship—that of letting go. If we want to follow Jesus, we must learn to let go of our personal agenda, our comfort zones, and, yes, even of our relationships and loved ones. In the eyes of the world, letting go of what we want and need is foolish and absurd. Why let go when you can hold on? Why sacrifice when you can enjoy? There is a reason and there is a mission why we let go. The reason is love, and the mission is the Kingdom of God .
Love is the reason why we let go. Without a relationship, letting go is devoid of meaning, empty and burdensome. We can let go of something or someone because of gratitude to God who loved us first, and who continues to love us unconditionally. It is a relationship between a master and a disciple, but more so, between a father and a child. Yes, we can let go of that which is dearest to us because someone who loves us is calling us.
The Kingdom of God is the mission why we let go. There is a job to be done, and if someone or something prevents us from doing the job, no matter how good or valuable that is, we must let go of it for the sake of a greater good, a greater value.
In reality, we get more when we let go. We often think we are doing God a favor when we take the road of sacrifice. The truth is that the invitation to follow Him leads to freedom and meaning. The freest and the most fulfilled people I’ve met are those who love something or someone greater than themselves.
“Forget what the world owes you, and concentrate on what you owe the world.” Some people never grow up because they cannot let go of the luggage of yesteryears, real or imagined, inherited or self-made. One whose hands are full of luggage cannot help carry others’ luggage precisely because his/her own hands are full. Neither can one fold his/her hands in prayer if they are closed in greed or in anger.
I remember, in shame, moments of selfishness when I was a child. The first one was when I was given plenty of goldfish and I put them all in a little aquarium. A cousin was asking for one, and I gave him none. The next morning, they were all dead and gone. The second was when I had a collection of fighting spiders, and I hid them from everyone because they were all mine! The next morning, they were still all mine, all dead, eaten by the ants.
A good question to ask ourselves whenever we get so engrossed with anything or anyone is: Why? What for? Whom for? At any moment of our lives, we are called to become better and freer persons. Let us not forget that most important rule for travelers: travel light.
Last June 22, the day before our late father’s death anniversary, a shabby old man out of nowhere approached me in a street somewhere in Makati begging for some money. I handed him an amount, upon which he thanked me and asked for my name. When he heard my name, he asked me how I was related to Guillermo Orbos. Upon learning that he was my father, tears swelled in his eyes, as he told me that our late father helped him get a job some 30 years ago. He thanked me profusely, asking me to give his regards to Mama and to my brother Oscar. As he walked away, I thought I saw Papa smiling, reminding me that it pays to be good. People do remember moments of kindness, moments in the “extra mile.”
The biggest challenge for the new administration of President Noynoy is to bring back the Gospel values of service, honesty, humility, hard work and sacrifice to our people, beginning with our government officials. It is time for us to go beyond darkness and go into the light. We all must let go of our culture of corruption. We must rise above impunity, and believe again that in our country the good will be rewarded, and the evil ones will be punished. Yes, we must believe in ourselves, and in our goodness once again as a people and as a nation.
Here’s one more unsolicited advice to our new President Noynoy, in line with letting go: Learn from history, but not be burdened by it; confront reality but not be overwhelmed by it; see possibilities and be moved by it. And if I may add, “Unity in essentials, respect in doubtful matters, love in all things.” ( St. Augustine ) One with you and our people in hope and prayer for a better Philippines !
Death is the big letting-go. Fr. Hilario Salinas, SVD, did not need a farewell speech when he left this world. His whole life of 77 years, 39 years of which were spent as a missionary in Indonesia , was a simple and clear statement. A moving moment in his funeral was when the Indonesians present sang a goodbye song for him, thanking him for his love, and commending him to God.
A moment with the Lord: Lord, remind me that letting go is basically letting You. Amen.