Rafa Antonio (4-N) reflects on St. Ignatius' soldierly response of unyielding love

July 26, 2013
Roberto Rafael R. Antonio. Photo by Jay Gregorio

Class of N2014
Ateneo de Manila High School
“A Soldier’s Response of Unyielding Love”
I am a soldier of Christ! I am going to claim my kingdom because the Lord Jesus is my Commanding Officer.
That sounds like I already know exactly what I want to be. That sounds like I am already so sure of where I want to go. Quite the opposite.
I have so many questions. The biggest question: “Why am I here?” Life is full of uncertainty, and sometimes that makes me afraid. If there’s a problem that seems too difficult, I tend to buckle or worse,  choose to yield. How can I do great things for God, if I’m just me?
This month we pay tribute to the most courageous and unyielding soldier the world has ever known, St. Ignatius.  He took a job where fear was inevitable, where uncertainty was a way of life. He was a soldier who fought battles. Neither fear nor uncertainty defeated him.  And when his life took a most unexpected turn, because a cannonball rendered him handicapped, that didn’t make him buckle nor yield.  He went on to become an even greater warrior for God one who went beyond the sword and the shield. He answered the Lord’s call and became Christ’s soldier.
Today, I’d like to speak about two points: OBEDIENCE, as St. Ignatius taught us. And LOVE as our response to God’s Love.
First, OBEDIENCE.  What does “obey” mean? You may say “to follow someone”. Well not exactly. The etymology of the word is from the Latin “oboedire”, “ob” which means toward and “oediere” which means to hear.  To hear or to listen.  St. Ignatius in his Spiritual Exercises teaches us to listen to God’s message. To discern for what God desires for us.  Through his example, he showed us that we must listen to our heart and spirit before we make decisions. This is because deep in our hearts, IS GOD. And so, obedience has to do with listening. In last Sunday’s gospel, we heard the story of the sisters Martha and Mary. Martha who served Jesus by working non-stop; while Mary who chose to simply sit down at Jesus’ feet and listen to Him speak. I believe that before we can do anything worthwhile for God, we must first listen to what He is telling us. As we are at the threshold of college life, we face so many unanswered questions and the fear of the uncertain.  It will do well for each of us to take time to be quiet, in prayer, and just listen to what God is saying.  He has a message meant for each of us individually. He has a message meant just for you.
If we were to listen to God’s call, I believe we would hear Him tell us to love. That brings me to my second point, LOVE. I don’t mean romantic love.  I mean love in its fullest truest sense. Love God will all our heart, soul and strength. St. Ignatius said, “God’s purpose, in creating us, is to draw forth from us, a response of love and service here on earth.”  What does that mean for us, for you, for me? I believe this answers that big question “why am I here?”.  God loved as first and the challenge I pose to you today is how we can love Him back.  We don’t have to think of mind-blowing, life-changing things. We can start with simple acts of kindness and small acts of love:  it could be sharing your food with the beggars on the street, greeting your parents good morning, asking your driver how he’s feeling or simply being there for a friend in need.  To love God in our neighbor is perhaps the most courageous and unyielding way we can be a soldier of Christ. Today’s Gospel speaks to us about where to plant the seed.  That if we want to flourish, we must plant on rich soil. So, let’s start with planting those acts of kindness, that in turn, will inspire others to do the same. Treat everyone you meet with the same respect you want them to show you. To love is to give life to others. To love God is to love Him in our neighbor.  More so now, as we approach crossroads in our lives, and as we make choices that will determine the persons we will become; let us keep our eyes on the goal.  Our goal should be to live with God forever by responding in love and service for Him and our neighbor.  The world is at our fingertips waiting to be loved. And, there are many things we can do, many things we can be. With God’s help, each and every one of us here has the greatest potential to reshape the world; and make it a place where faith, justice, peace, truth and love reign.
As I end my sharing I dare to say, we are all soldiers in the army of the Living God. You’re a soldier of God. You’re a soldier of God. You’re a soldier of God. And I am a soldier of God.  We’ve all signed up in His army because we want to share in His eternal Glory. But what does that mean? As his warriors, we must be there when He needs us.  We must take to the task with perseverance, be unyielding and brave. We will be exhausted by trials and drained by things like school and its demands; but through His strength, we will pull through. We don’t need to be pitied, pampered, or paid. We are soldiers. Failure can’t make us resign. Loss can’t convince us to quit. Doubt can’t make us slack off. And fear can’t scare us enough. God will be there and He will provide for our needs. We are his Atenean soldiers and we will not give up. I present myself to my Commanding Officer and I’m claiming my kingdom! Will you?