As persons, we are meant by definition to care for one another. We are meant to relate ourselves with everybody else one way or another. No man is an island, it is said. That is why we are given the proper faculties—our intelligence, will, emotions, passions, appetites, etc.—so that we could do what we are designed to carry out.
And as persons created in God’s image and likeness, we are meant to help one another to achieve that ultimate dignity of ours—to be truly God’s image and likeness, sharers of his divine life and nature. We can say that our life here on earth is meant to work out the process of our own deification in and with God through Christ in the Spirit. This is what apostolate is all about.
We are reminded of this duty of ours in that gospel episode where Christ, followed by a big crowd from different places, started to preach and to perform some miraculous cures, including driving out unclean spirits from a number of persons. (cfr. Mk 3,7-12)
We need to be more aware and, more important, more adept in fulfilling this duty of ours. We cannot deny that instead of being always concerned with the others, we have the tendency for a variety of reasons to be self-absorbed, self-centered and self-indulgent. We have to do something about his predicament.
The secret of having that apostolic fire burning in our heart is of course that of exerting the constant effort to identify ourselves with Christ, the pattern of our humanity. We can only be truly apostolic in a stable way to the extent that we identify ourselves with Christ. Thus, the apostolate can only be the effect and the overflow of our own sanctification, that is, of our own effort to be like Christ.
We have to understand that Christ is asking us to do our part, always together with him, just as he asked his apostles to do so. And that’s because, first of all, even if Christ being God does not need us to do this, he wants it that way since he is treating us the way he treats himself. We are his image and likeness.
It’s actually for our own good. Our involvement in the apostolate actually matures and perfects us as persons and as children of God. It detaches us from our own self-centeredness and self-absorption, and draws us to the dynamics of love and self-giving.
We have to remember that loving God who we do not see is accomplished by loving others who we see. And apostolate is that exquisite part of loving others since it involves not only caring for some material good for others, but rather for their ultimate spiritual good.
Secondly, God has designed and wired us to help one another not only in our material and temporal needs, but especially in our spiritual needs that are aimed to our supernatural destination, nothing less than our participation in the very life of God. We need to realize more sharply that we are actually responsible for one another.
Of course, this participation in the divine life can only happen with the grace of God and never just by our own efforts alone. That’s why the second person of the Blessed Trinity became man, Jesus Christ, who offers himself as our way, our truth and our life.*