To be another Christ doesn’t necessarily refer to just the grand things but even to small and simple acts of kindness.
Here’s one truth about my family: we’re avid fans of music. Surrounded by musical instruments and reared by parents who loved to sing, music was already something close to my heart even as I was growing up. My parents and seven siblings and I bonded as a family throughout the years by singing and playing music; it is a gift that we continue to treasure even as adults with our own families today. Whenever we would get together now, there would be the usual teasing, of course. They would always call me “Father” and ask me to lead the prayer, which I do because I know that this is one simple yet concrete way for me to express my love for them. But something beautiful happens when I bring out the guitar: we come together in singing. Another thing my parents taught me early on was
devotion to God. I was prayerful even as a child, and realized at a young age that God had blessed me with so much. We were not a rich family, but we had enough— my father, who was a government employee, made sure that we had a roof over our heads, three meals a day, and the opportunity to go to school. My mother, on the other hand, made sure that what we may have lacked in material resources was more than compensated for by our happy and healthy family life. I knew I was so loved by God, which was why I made it a point to live my life giving thanks to Him. This yearning to respond to the Lord, however, became more concrete when I was in college. One morning, while attending the Holy Mass, I noticed that some of my friends from school were serving as altar boys. For some inexplicable reason, I had the sudden desire to serve in the same way. And so, immediately after the service, I approached my friends and asked them how I, too, could become an altar boy. I was pleasantly surprised when they simply told me to come back the next morning so they could start training me. That was when my first few, tentative steps towards serving God began.
Every morning, I would wake up at five o’clock in the morning just so I could arrive at the Church in time for the six o’clock mass. Since public transport in my hometown was not, at that time, easy to come by at dawn, I would walk almost three kilometers each morning to reach the church and be the altar server for the morning service. After that, I would head to school; when classes ended, I would serve at the church once more before finally going home. But during all those years, I never felt like I was sacrificing anything—I loved it and continued serving as an altar boy there until I graduated. In retrospect, I think it was really part of God’s plan to have me serve Him through the church. It not only made me focus on Him everyday, but it also helped me live a life of purity, especially at an age when it’s usually a struggle to do so. Though there are many Godly role models I can look up to apart from Jesus and Mary, the person I consider to be my model in becoming another Christ is my father. His immense love for the poor reminds me of Jesus who, while He was on earth, always showed preferential love to the least, the lost, and the last. I remember how he once gave the little money we had to a sick neighbor, even though that meant we would be unable to pay for the electricity bill, because he knew that the had no one else to ask help from. All throughout my childhood, there were many similar instances. Again, we didn’t have much, but my father taught us that, no matter how little we had, it was always enough to share with those who were in need. That, for me, is what “Alter Christus” means. To become “Alter Christus” or “another Christ” is to become the hands and feet of God (St. Thomas Aquinas).
It means understanding that God has been nothing but great in your life. It is realizing that the logical next step to being loved is to give love. It is coming to the conclusion that you have been loved so greatly and are left with no other desire than to share this love to all whom you come across. This is Alter Christus.
To be another Christ doesn’t necessarily refer to just the grand things but even to small and simple acts of kindness. For me, being another Christ means turning the other cheek, being a source of unity to one’s relationships, or simply being a vessel of God’s love to your family in small ways like leading the prayer before meals. For those in community, it may mean nurturing the people God has entrusted to us. As a household head, it means fulfilling the responsibility to take care of one’s members and leading them towards Christ through consistent
pastoral care. In a way, the theme was designed to help us evangelize, not just through the simplest deeds, but even in our words. It inspires us to find out what the phrase really means so
that, when we go wearing a shirt with the phrase, “alter Christus”, we will be ready to meet the curiosity of other people with an answer. At the same time, it’s a reminder for us to not just speak of our convictions, but to be like another Christ to others. May we continue to do just that, especially to those who need it most. May we always be willing reminders of God’s love and, like the saints, sanctify ourselves in our daily work and in the fulfillment of our ordinary duties. I pray that each one of us will receive the grace to face our fears of rejection, ridicule, or misinterpretation, so that nothing can stand in the way of our loving others, and we may live with grace and compassion as we continue the mission that Jesus began and has passed on to us. After all, to be Alter Christus is to ultimately respond to God’s love just as Christ did.