Fr. Roy Cimagala
GIVEN our human condition, marked as it is with many ups and downs, we need to see to it that our love continues to burn regardless of the changing circumstances. We have to nurture it such that at the end of the day we can really say that all our time has been spent in love. Love should be the original and ultimate motive of our day, since love takes care of everything. All other motives only play supporting roles.
Where there is love, we will always have joy and peace, eagerness and drive to do things, even to the point of making sacrifices for others, giving ourselves to them in all generosity and gratuitousness. We would even be willing to bear and assume the burdens of the others.
Where there is love, boredom can hardly enter into our lives. We may be tired physically, emotionally, mentally, but deep within us there would still be that burning, raging desire to give ourselves to others without counting the cost. Our weaknesses and difficulties would not be a reason to complain. And when we feel them, we would be happy to consider them as living proof of the intensity of our love.
Where there is love, temptations would find it hard to find their way to us. Love is a natural repellant to temptations, sin and all forms of evil. And that’s because love by its very nature is always hot, and like a hot soup where no flies would ever dare to get close to it, love drives away temptations.
Of course, we have to understand that the love we are talking about here is the real love that comes from God, and is lived always with him. It cannot be just any kind of love that is generated merely by our own feelings and estimation of things. It is the love that Christ talked about when he said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (Jn 13,34)
We need to see to it that we have this real love by always taking care of our intimate relation with God. We need to talk to him always, relating everything to him, asking for enlightenment, motivation, and any help we need. We should always be drawn to him in an increasing way as the day goes on.
This definitely would need that we be simple and humble so that the faith, hope and charity that God shares with us get activated, and we get to see things in a spiritual and supernatural way, and not just in a natural way that will always be marked by our limitations and weaknesses, not to mention, temptations, sin and all forms of evil.
We have to be wary of the constant danger of spiritual lukewarmness when we get contented with what we think is already passable insofar as our relationship with God is concerned. This danger puts us at the mercy of our physical, emotional, intellectual condition, etc., that cannot fully cope with the demands of the spiritual and supernatural reality of our life.
Every so often during the day, we have to check whether what is truly guiding us as we go through the different events of the day are the principles of faith, hope and charity, and not just the state of our human and natural conditions. We have to develop the skill of detecting whether we are being spiritual and supernatural in our outlook or just being human and natural.
We have to reaffirm our conviction that it is the spiritual and supernatural aspect of our life that gives the proper direction to our human and natural conditions. It is what would keep us going despite difficulties, trials, failures, and the like that we can encounter during the day.
Not to condemn but to save. St. John in his gospel made it clear what God’s attitude is toward us. “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,” he said, “but that the world might be saved through him.” (3,17)
That divine attitude should also be ours toward one another. That’s why Christ, our redeemer who accomplished his mission of redeeming us more by offering forgiveness rather than by just preaching about what is right and wrong, gave us a new commandment that summarizes and perfects all the previous commandments God has given us.
“Love one another as I have loved you,” (Jn 13,34) he said, literally telling us that we should be more forgiving as he was and is, rather than merely insisting on what is right.
Reiterating this point, he said that it is with this attitude that we can truly be considered as Christ’s disciples. (cfr. Jn 13,35) In other words, unless we are forgiving and merciful as Christ is to all of us, we would not be truly his disciples if we insist simply on being right. Such attitude would be considered self-righteous, because that is not the righteousness taught, shown and commanded by Christ to us.
That is also why Christ told us clearly that we have to love our enemies. “Do good to those who hate you,” he said, “bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.” (Lk 6,27-29)
We need to examine ourselves if we truly have this attitude of Christ, if we truly follow what he taught us and what he himself did. We have to moderate our reactions if not restrain ourselves from our tendency to immediately fight back, seek revenge, complain and accuse everytime we feel offended.
This does not mean that we should not be interested in justice and in affirming and defending what is right from wrong. But in all these efforts, we should not compromise the charity that Christ is commanding us to live. Like Christ, we have to be magnanimous, patient, willing to suffer.
We have to be willing to offer forgiveness and mercy. Like Christ we have to be willing to bear the wrongs of the others, and to work for their conversion, instead of focusing as our ultimate goal the righting of what is wrong. We can never have perfect justice here on earth. That justice can only be given by God himself.
We have to realize that with our human condition, we cannot totally avoid what is wrong, evil and sinful in this life. That’s a given that we should not waste time debating about anymore. We just have to follow the example and commandment of Christ when dealing with this unavoidable fact of life.
When we have to fight for justice and for what is right, let it be that we do it with magnanimity and humility, and never as an expression of self-righteousness. As one saint once said, let us simply drown evil with an abundance of good, even if in the process, we are made to suffer, and to suffer unjustly.
Let’s never forget that as many people have already affirmed, our life here on earth and the world itself can be very unfair. Let’s not make a big issue out of this reality. Fairness and justice can only be perfectly achieved when we follow the example of Christ.
Obviously, a training in the virtues of charity, mercy, magnanimity, patience, humility, etc. is a must and should be carried out right at the bosom of each family. It has to be shown that it is in these virtues where we can have our true liberation, our salvation, our fulfilment.