Life’s Driving Force

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The WORD in other words (2022) by Fr Jun De Ocampo SVD — Chaplaincy of Filipino Community in Berlin

Thursday 4th Week of Lent

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Looking daily at my Facebook timeline has become addictive. I’ve been trying to reflect on what makes my hands gravitate to surf into the latest feeds. Simply, it is the idea of being connected with people, greeted, affirmed, and praised. This is what made Facebook a very popular pastime for many. There is innate hunger in each human being for love and approval.

Victor Hugo said, “Man lives by affirmation even more than he does by bread.” Life finds its meaning, happiness, and purpose when one feels affirmed, loved, and held dear. That is the driving force within humans why we do what we do.

Jesus, human like any of us, lived on earth with that same hunger for love and approval. But for Jesus, the love and approval of the Father were all that he needed to focus on his mission on earth, up to his death on the cross. “You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” (Matthew 3, 17; Mark 1,11) that is all that he needed to hear. That’s why in today’s Gospel, Jesus said, “I do not accept human praise.” (John 5, 41)

One of our former Filipino ambassadors to Germany gave me a powerful example of how to live the spirit of the season of Lent. One of her ways of fasting is to refrain from opening her Facebook account starting on Ash Wednesday. She would open it again on Easter Sunday. I see deep spiritual values in this practice.

Yes, we do need the love, approval, and acceptance of others, without which we cannot live normally. Let them not be the sole purpose for which we live. We will be terribly disappointed and frustrated when some people dislike us, disagree with us, or even hate us, as it happens to everybody. There is more to life than that. The love of God will outlast and outlive them. God’s unconditional love, even if we are unloved by many others, will not abandon us.

As Christians, let it be our goal in life to become more and more like Jesus every day. Strive to be the face of Jesus on earth “so that they will see the good that you do and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5, 16)

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