Disclaimer: I have nothing against the Gospel According to St. Matthew. The Featured Photo is merely for illustrative purposes. 😉
It is in the lifeblood of one of the Philippines’ largest Protestant churches. It is one of the statements of faith in both the Nicean and the Apostles’ Creeds. It is the topic of the second (and by extension third) Glorious Mysteries of the Holy Rosary. It is written about in the three Synoptic Gospels and even in the sequel to the third one. It is no doubt one of the greatest things to happen in the roots of Christendom: the ascension of Jesus into Heaven, forty days after His resurrection.
And with His ascension, He leaves His apostles behind to take His rightful place at the right hand of the Father – but at the same time, He does not really leave them behind. He actually gives them a gift – and a command. Jesus, God the Son, sends them the Holy Spirit – God the Spirit – and commissions them to tell the world of His love: the first Christian missionaries.
Last Sunday – Ascension Sunday – as I was hearing Mass, the priest gave a very beautiful and inspired homily – inspired by the Holy Spirit. He provides that as Jesus commissioned the apostles to spread the Good News, He was actually also making them prepare for eternal life in heaven. This lifelong journey of being an instrument of love and peace was then illustrated by one of the most exhilarating analogies I’ve ever heard – only because said analogy captured four of my greatest interests in one sentence (or two). According to the priest, preparing for eternal life through the Great Commission was like one’s preparing to migrate to another country by learning its native language – so that once you get there, you’d fit in as though you’d been there all along. Wonderful, isn’t it?
Preparing for eternal life, therefore, is first and foremost all about accepting the free gift of salvation from God. No matter what we do, we can never, ever deserve salvation because of our sinful nature – however, because of His mercy and compassion, God, through Jesus, has offered it to us for free. We only need to accept it – and, of course, prove that we did so. And how so? By emulating Christ, being a model of love and service to others no matter what.
You have your own unique set of gifts, abilities, and talents, your own unique life story. Let’s call this your “Life Kit“. I cannot emphasize the importance of this: you are unique, and so your innate dignity is made all the greater. No one can take it away from you. It is a crucial element to your being infused by your Creator in you, and to take away your dignity would be to take away your humanity. No one can do this. You are you, and there never was, is, and will be anyone like you. Your overall blueprint has no copy – a photocopy would be inferior to the original. You cannot ever be like anyone else, and no one can ever be like you. You can only be yourself.
And because your blueprint is exclusive to you, only you can make the most out of it. You are actually asked to make the most of it – to, as the name of one of the sites that inspire me the most puts it, “Live Your Legend“. Your legend can be written down only by you; if anyone else tried to do it, they’d get an inaccurate, incomplete, or twisted picture.
Or, if we were to put this fact together with the Great Commission, you are being called to share The Gospel According to You.
Each of the four Gospels in the Bible – and the other non-canonical Gospels – did not write about the exact same thing; even in the same event they chronicled things differently. Each of the evangelists did so given their background, their exposure, their writing style, and so on and so forth. They used their unique Life Kits to recount the Jesus story their own way for a common purpose, shaped by their perspectives. This is the same with you: you are called to share the ultimate love story in your own way for the same purpose, shaped by your perspectives: your own principles, your own values, your own advocacies, your own beliefs.
True, there are some elements that need to be followed, observed, or present in everyone’s own Gospel – such as the story of love, of goodness, of hope. But the rest is your call, your autonomous power’s manifestations. I firmly believe that we all have our innate responsibility not just for ourselves, but for others and our world too. I also firmly believe that these responsibilities come about because of the presence of a higher Being who calls us to emulate His ways – the ways of love, truth, and justice. Put together, you now have a higher purpose to live for and to live out.
But what is this purpose? How exactly do you live a responsible and godly life? Only you can say. Based on the contents of your Life Kit – your capabilities, limitations, circumstances, and your desires – only you can properly assemble them into a superior product with no other developer and manufacturer other than YOU. This is The Gospel According to You.
We all receive our Life Kits at birth. However, it always takes time to figure out, time that is also unique to each of us – yet another element of the Life Kit. The lengths of time to discover your Kit, to open it, to identify the contents, and even to assemble them are unique to you – so don’t feel disheartened if you feel you haven’t fully figured it out yet. While I advocate living out a higher purpose, I accept that everyone can do so most effectively only at their own paces.
I therefore invite you, over this weekend, to look inside and check on where you are with respect to your Life Kit – to see how the writing of the Gospel According to You is going. Accept the status, and move slowly but surely from there.
Have a happy and blessed weekend!