RADICAL FOLLOWING OF JESUS
With these words St. Anthony Mary Claret concludes a beautiful paragraph of his Autobiography in which he describes what should be the identity of the missionary. It is a description he himself sought and lived.
The life of St. Anthony Mary Claret had Christ as its integral and dynamic centre. He felt loved, accompanied and sent by him. The whole of human life needs a centre of gravity to fill it with a purpose in life. Claret did not lack it. He allowed Christ to mould his whole being. It was a relationship growing over the course of his life and taking on various connotations in different stages of his life. The first one was the experience of Jesus as a friend in his childhood and teenage period. As a young man, his meeting with Jesus forged a new direction for his life from that voice of “what is the use for a man to win the whole world if he loses himself” in a church in Barcelona.
Later on, as a missionary, he wanted to imitate Jesus in all things, but mainly in his passion for the glory of the Father and his absolute surrender to announce the Kingdom. The situation of the poor he met in Cuba as the archbishop of that island, placed him in tune with the deep compassion of Jesus in a special way and impelled him to create various projects in favour of the excluded.
During his last 10 years in Madrid, he spent hours contemplating the persecuted Jesus, learning from him to be gentle and humble of heart, to forgive and offer to the Father the pain from the slanders and persecutions he had to bear at that time. He died kissing the cross, after experiencing personally the cross of persecution and exile. Jesus was certainly his absolute point of reference, the integrating centre that activates his life.
To follow Jesus is a great plan of life. It is nothing but the Christian way. The missionary can never take his eyes off of Jesus.