Fr. Roy Cimagala .
OF course, after the elections we can expect feelings of highs and lows among us. The winners and their followers understandably are joyful. And just as understandably also, the losers and their followers are in some of kind of mourning mode. Let’s just leave it at that.
But let’s always remember that we are all brothers and sisters, children of God. Irrespective of our differences and conflicts, mistakes and offenses, we are meant to love each other always. Let’s avoid becoming gloating winners and sore losers, marked with anger and hatred, depression, resentment, thoughts of revenge and the like. These actuations are actually inhuman, let alone, unchristian.
If we truly are Christians, we would know how to love one another not only in spite of, but also because of our differences and conflicts. That’s how Christ treats all of us. He came to love everyone, including those who were against him, those who crucified him. He at least offered them mercy.
We have to learn from the example of Christ. He is the “way, the truth and the life” for us. He knows what is to be man. He knows our strength and weaknesses, and he knows how to handle them. He is showing us how to deal with our human condition here on earth, weakened as it is by our sin.
And his example is marked with detachment not only from his views, from his teachings, but also from his life. Yes, he was clear and precise about what is right and wrong, what is good and evil. He was very concerned about the cause of justice and the rule of law. But in the end it is mercy, the summit of charity, that prevails.
We have to understand that Christ came to save all of us, and not just a few, the supposedly good ones. Precisely, he paid more special attention to the ‘lost sheep.’ He went to the extent of teaching us that we love even our enemies, and he acted out that teaching by accepting death on the cross. Our relation with one another should reflect this kind of attitude.
As St. Paul would put it in his Letter to the Romans, “Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fullness of the law.” (13,10) This does not mean that justice is done away with.
Love always upholds and perfects justice.
It is just that a love-inspired justice is not one where the mistake of one party is corrected by another mistake by way of a purely punitive kind of justice. Such kind of justice is not real justice, the justice that is meant for us, given our dignity as children of God.
A love-inspired justice also has its punitive aspect, but of the kind that heals a person of his defect, corrects his mistake and restores his real dignity as a child of God. It’s not just punishing a guilty person for the sake of punishing alone.
This love-inspired justice, I am afraid, is not yet known, much less, lived by a great majority of the people today nor reflected in our legal and judicial systems. It is the kind of justice that may appear at first sight as unfair to the innocent party, since he appears to suffer more than the guilty party.
But this is the example of Christ. This is the kind of justice Christ is showing us to follow and live. This is how he resolved the injustice we committed against God. He was made to suffer and did not complain. He just bore everything, showing us how precious we are to him.
We need to do some drastic adjustments in our understanding of justice and charity. It will obviously require the grace of God, our identification with Christ. It will involve a lot of effort, willingness to suffer, detachment from the things of this world and even of our life, magnanimity and a sporting spirit.
Living with Christ. We have to understand that our life here on earth is meant to be a life with Christ. And that’s simply because, as Christ himself said, he is “the way, the truth and the life.” (Jn 14,6) He said that no one goes to the Father, no one can go to God, from whom we come and to whom we belong, except through him.
For Christian believers, human life is not just anyone’s life. It is by definition a life with Christ who is the pattern of our humanity and the savior of our damaged humanity. And even if one is not a Christian believer, he somehow knows that his life is not just his own. There are at least many ‘stakeholders’ or persons unavoidably involved in his life—his parents, siblings, friends, colleagues, society in general, etc.
Christian believers should realize that we have to continually keep company with Christ whom we have to know, love, serve and identify ourselves with. And one way of knowing him, the first step before we can love, serve and identify ourselves with him, is to read and meditate on the gospel, or the whole of Sacred Scripture, that contains the life and teachings of Christ.
But there is just one important qualification in this business of reading and meditating on the gospel. We should not just read and approach it as if we are just reading a book, a novel, a play, a historical document.
It has to be read with a living faith that should involve our whole being, and not just our intellect or feelings. It has to involve our whole being that includes the whole gamut of the spiritual dimension and the supernatural destination of our life.
I remember Opus Dei founder St. Josemaria Escriva saying that in reading and meditating on the gospel, one has to make himself as one more character in any episode of Christ’s life as narrated in the gospel.
He certainly did not simply mean that we imagine ourselves to be physically present in a particular episode. This attitude would simply confine us at best to a historical and cultural impression of Christ that is by definition limited in scope and relevance. We would miss the living Christ.
We have to use all our human faculties and to be animated by faith, so that we can have not only a certain nearness to Christ but also can manage to discern the spirit of Christ which will always be relevant whatever period and situation we may be in the timeline of the world.
Let’s remember that Christ’s words and teachings as contained in the gospel are living and eternal words. Not only do they have a universal scope insofar as our life and salvation is concerned, but also have particular and unique messages for each one of us.
Thus, the letter to the Hebrews describes God’s word as revealed by Christ as “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (4,12)
Reading and meditating on the gospel with faith would truly enable us to live our life with Christ irrespective of the historical, cultural differences, etc. between his earthly life and ours. It validates what the Catechism says about how our life can be a life with Christ. The Catechism says: “Christ enables us to live in him all that he himself lived, and he lives it in us… We are called only to become one with him, for he enables us as the members of his Body to share in what he lived for us in his flesh as our model.” (521)
The Catechism continues: “We must continue to accomplish in ourselves the stages of Jesus’ life and his mysteries and often to beg him to perfect and realize them in us and in his whole Church…”