I remember reading a short story when I was first year high school. Written by C. V. Pedroche, a Filipino writer in English, it was called “Amor Seco.” The only thing I recall about the love story was that its intriguing title referred to a species of wild flower with a peculiar characteristic. If you walked through a field of amorsecos, the flowers would cling to your feet and clothing. I suppose the amorseco was intended to be some kind of metaphor for the protagonists or their love, especially since “amor seco” in Spanish literally means “dry love.”
Today’s Gospel reminded me of the amor seco because of Jesus’ instructions to his disciples to “take nothing with them” in their mission. He is quite explicit about what they can bring with them: only sandals and a walking stick; no food, no sack, no money, not even a second tunic. In other words, travel light.
It’s a counsel fit not only for missionaries, but also for every Christian. St. Ignatius of Loyola reminds us that we have been created to “praise, reverence, and serve God” so that everything else on earth is but a means to help us fulfill our purpose. For this reason, we should prefer health to sickness, honor to dishonor, long life to a short one if and only if these will be more conducive for us to reach our end of giving God glory.
It is, of course, easier said than done. The world is a virtual field of amorsecos, and walking through it, we can’t help but accumulate things from this world that automatically cling to us. And the worst part? We ourselves can’t help but cling to them: possessions and riches, honor and social approval, people and relationships, power and control. As a result, we end up allowing them to define us, and before we know it, we are not exactly “taking nothing with us.”
I remember when I first entered the novitiate so many years ago. My sixteen companions and I were still reeling from having made the life-altering decision of leaving our previous lives. Many of us had given up ambitions, careers, and a diversity of alternative dreams to give religious life a try. But just one day after our entrance, our novice master gathered us in the conference room and invited us to begin a life of simplicity by asking us to surrender our toiletries: soap, shampoo, etc. When he sensed reluctance in the room, he said, “You have given up so much of your life to follow the Lord, and now the evil spirit will work double-time to make you cling to unimportant things like soap and shampoo. Let go, and spare nothing in your self-offering!”
It’s not easy to travel light when you’re walking through a field of amorsecos. It is so easy to get distracted along the way, and we often end up forgetting our true and final destination. Today might be a good time to ask ourselves: Which of the following attachments is the hardest to give up for you? Possessions and riches? Honor and social approval? People and relationships? Or power and control?
What is your amorseco?