Fr. Roy Cimagala .
TO gloat is “contemplate or dwell on one’s own success or another’s misfortune with smugness or malignant pleasure.” It’s never a good thing to do, yet nowadays many people often fall precisely into that.
They flaunt their achievements, they strut their stuff, they even show off the nice places they have been to and the good food they have taken. And when others fail or suffer a misfortune or even get their just desserts for their bad acts, many people leap for joy. They feel they have strong reason to feel and act that way.
Gloating usually takes place in the field of politics. Politicians, public officials, candidates and other wannabes try to outdo each other in terms of their accomplishments and status while quick to find fault in others and are happy to see others fail or weak in something.
Of course, in that field of politics, the temptation to gloat is strong and constant for that is how politicians market themselves to the people. But just the same such circumstances and conditions do not make gloating right.
It is the same in the other fields like in business, academics, sports, entertainment, etc. It is not even right to take delight that somebody is being justly punished for a misdeed or a crime he has committed.
If we are truly Christian, it is not the right thing to do. Christ did not take delight in the mistakes of others. He was always quick to forgive, ever understanding and compassionate with the weaknesses of men. If ever he got angry, it was only for a moment.
These days we have to be very guarded against the general tendency to gloat, since it has become kind of normal everywhere and is seen and done everywhere. It is in the newspapers, on TV, in social media. Yes, it has leaped from the level of private gossips to that of social networks and general culture.
To gloat is never right because in the first place whatever good we have and accomplishments we make are always due to God’s grace. Our efforts play only a secondary and instrumental role at best. So we do not have reason to be so proud as to gloat.
As St. Paul said: “For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” (1 Cor 4,7)
In other words, we are all equal in the eyes of God our creator. The differences and distinctions we have among ourselves are meant to work for the common good, and not for one’s glory but for God’s glory.
Neither is it right to gloat over the misfortunes in others, in whatever forms these misfortunes come. And the simple reason again is that in the end we are all brothers and sisters meant to love one another.
The mistakes we commit among ourselves and the just consequences they produce do not give us a reason to gloat. Instead, like Christ, we always have to show mercy and compassion. These should be the last word to take effect even if just penalties will have to be imposed for any wrongdoing.
Of course, for us to avoid gloating, we need to be strongly identified with Christ. Without him, there is no way we can avoid it. Our wounded humanity will have no alternative.
That is why, we have to pray and follow Christ in his example of extreme humility and abundant patience, compassion, mercy and magnanimity.
We are meant for immortality. We are meant for immortality simply because we have a spiritual soul. Our principle of life is not matter-based that deteriorates and dies in time. Ours can outlast our material and temporal condition.
More than that, with God’s grace on which it actually depends, our soul can animate and spiritualize our material dimension such that our body can partake of immortality also.
The corollary to this is that our human acts which are done knowingly and freely should be such that can aim at immortality.
That is why we talk about morality of our acts.
This is, of course, a truth of faith that goes beyond human reckoning that depends on sensible facts and data. But it’s a truth that somehow can be validated by the fact that Christ, our way, truth and life, resurrected after death, giving us an idea that with him too, we can resurrect but at the end of time.
Just the same, we always have in us a natural inner longing for a life without end, that somehow indicates that we are indeed meant for immortality. Of course, such longing may also be taken for granted or ignored or even rejected. But that we always prepare somehow for the future already shows traces of such natural longing for immortality.
The ideal is that we look forward to that state of immortality. And that means that we have to be ready to die in this world so we can be released from the limitations of time and space, and enter into the eternal life of God and all the saints in heaven, where we actually come from and where we belong.
Let’s remember that we just did not come from our parents through some biological processes. We come from God who is in heaven. God is our creator. Our parents are only procreators.
Our parents can only give us our body with its plant and animal soul at best. It is this soul that enables us to move, grow, feel, think, behave, etc., in a particular way. It is a soul that goes together with our bodily and physical condition. It lives and dies with it.
But our spiritual soul is not transmissible through human reproduction. Our spiritual soul comes from God directly. It is the soul that enables us to unite with God. It is the soul that actually animates all the parts and components of our being—the physical, biological, emotional, intellectual, etc.
It is what enables us to think and long for immortality, and the one that links us directly and permanently with God our Creator. Thus, it is of utmost importance that of all the parts and components of our humanity, it is the spiritual soul that we have take care of the most. And that is precisely meant by what is termed as our spiritual life.
If we take care of our spiritual life, our longing for immortality as well as the effort to fulfill the requirements for it would be sharpened. We would be vigilant and expectant, knowing that our earthly life is just a pilgrimage to our definitive home in heaven. That is why, in the liturgy we are always reminded of this need.
After the consecration at Mass, for example, the priest prays: “Deliver us, Lord, we pray from every evil, graciously grant peace in our days, that, by the help of your mercy, we may be always free from sin and safe from all distress, as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.”
It echoes what St. Paul said in his Letter to the Philippians: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (3,20)
We need to heighten our longing for immortality daily without neglecting our duties of the moment that precisely serve as our pathway to that immortal state of life.