Painting: Renoir, Cagnes Landscape With Woman and Child, 1910
We have left everything to follow you
One of the conditions of following Jesus is to leave everything we have. Becoming the disciples of Jesus seems no price and reward at all; indeed, in the eyes of the world, it is an absurdity and a non-sense. This is felt by Peter and that is why he asks Jesus: “What about us? We have left everything and followed you”. Many of us seemingly feel that what we have done for the kingdom of God and our faith in Jesus is a non-sense and is nothing compared with the claim of the world and its glory. Furthermore, the reign of the non-sense now is getting deeper because the situation of the world is getting worst because of economic problems, ambition for money, the morality that is put on the brink. In our effort to value and to shape the world under the faith looks not compatible with the world’s dynamism. The world scorns the faith and the value of Christian. When the disciples testify and proclaim the gospel through their faith and action, they also experience the hardship and the suffering like the other men who do not believe in Jesus. The cloud of nothingness and darkness comes down to the heart of the Christian faith. We are tempted to leave our identity as Christian to follow another luring promise that offers more security. The question is whether it is true that following Jesus will end in the non-sense? is it true that the values of Christian are an only illusion in the midst of the world?
We must notice well the word to seem. The word to seem actually never shows the whole truth. To seem is a phenomenon that leads us to know something but not at all. The phenomenon is very close to Fata morgana. Fata morgana or mirages distort the objects which they are based on significantly, often such that the object is completely unrecognizable. Fata Morgana can be seen on land or at sea, in polar regions, or in deserts. So, within this framework the reign of the non-sense is like Fata morgana.
According to Ricoeur, the sense is always greater than the non-sense. It is clear that even though the non-sense is great and dominates anything, the sense is always bigger than the non-sense. In consequence, there is neither nothingness nor absurdity even though it seems to fulfill the reality. Precisely from the absurdity and the non-sense, the superabundance of the sense will emerge because the superabundance of the sense is hiding in the non-sense. The mechanism of the superabundance of the sense over the non-sense is like a metaphor. The meaning of the metaphor is not laid in its literally meaning but in its hidden meaning. The metaphor needs to be dismantled in order to find its hidden meaning. After its literal meaning is dismantled, then reveal out the hidden meanings. In the metaphor, the hidden meanings are so abundant and greater than the literal meaning. Here, the non-sense is similar to the literal meaning of metaphor meanwhile the sense is represented by the hidden meanings of metaphor. For example, god is my rock. If we dig the literal meaning of god is my rock, then we will find its meaning in limitation and indeed it is nothing. God and rock, these two words seem are the non-sense in their literal meaning. But in the hidden meaning as metaphor, they are the superabundance of the sense.
The superabundance of the sense multiplies itself in the non-sense. There is a pattern of the sense over non-sense: orientation (the sense)-disorientation (the non-sense)-reorientation (the superabundance of the sense). So, when the non-sense comes into life, definitely we will find the superabundance of the sense as long we could break the logic of the non-sense. But the problem is how to break the non-sense or how to dismantle the metaphor in order to find its hidden meaning? Of course, by reflection. The logic of reflection is like a torch that illuminates the dark side of an event. It is also like a breaker that breaks the frozen event. The result is the sense emerges and the emerging sense empowers us to see the non- sense in the light and in a positive way. But it is not enough just only making reflection because an usual reflection does not have a firm and steady pillar. Under the frame of Christian faith, we need to unite all the events of life with the suffering, the death, and the resurrection of Christ which is the sweetest way to achieve the superabundance of the sense. Remember that Jesus comes to the world to give the superabundance of life to the world and to his follower. His resurrection is proof of the existence of the superabundance of the sense and the victory of the sense over the non-sense.
There is a danger that when a person cannot find a deep sense of meaning, they distract themselves with pleasure (Viktor Frankl). But like a lotus flower, we too have the ability to rise from the mud, bloom out the darkness and radiate into the world. Life is like this, there are days when the flowers do not open, but that is not why we should give up the seeds, because when we water a dream with faith, God blesses the harvest. This is possible because of our loyalty to Jesus in the midst of the non-sense. We let Jesus himself to write the meaning in history, in the present, and in the future.
The words of Jesus: “I tell you solemnly, there is no one who has left house, brothers, sisters, father children or land for my sake and the sake of the gospel who will not be repaid a hundred times over, houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and land-not without persecutions-now in this present time and in the world to come, eternal life” shows the greater sense over the non-sense. Following and becoming the disciples of Jesus never lead us to the non-sense but to the superabundance of sense because Jesus himself is the source of the superabundance of sense. In the realm of the superabundance of the sense, we are always raised up from one moment to another. We see in the world with what we carry in our sense of Jesus so that we color the world in the superabundance of the sense. The world is renewed by the sense of Christian values which makes the world germinates kindness, love, and hope. We dance for it in the rhythm of the world. Hence, to follow Jesus is not an illusion but a reality of the sense. Being followers of Jesus in their role for the world is like candles, they burn themselves up to give other light. This means being open to horizons that offer hope to those stationed on the peripheries: the people who have not yet experienced or who have lost, the strength and light that comes with meeting Christ (Pope Francis). This is the joy of life. We find the price of being his follower that is the joy of the life which is the superabundance of the sense through the non-sense. The superabundance of the sense is our payment that repaid a hundred times over that is faith, love, service, and peace. They are the sweetest happiness that cannot be stolen from the heart and that satisfy our soul. They are the superabundance of the sense over the non-sense. They are eternal flowers that grow in eternal life. The superabundance of the sense is happiness and indeed such happiness is eternal life embedded in the heart of Jesus’s follower. That is the mystery of being Jesus’s follower.