By Fr. Roy Cimagala
WE are somehow reminded of this need of ours to adapt all the way to all kinds of persons and situations in life in that gospel episode where Christ was asked why the disciples of John the Baptist fast, while his do not. (cfr. Lk 5,33-39) That’s also where Christ said that famous line about not putting a piece of new cloth to patch an old one, and new wine into old wineskins.
Like Christ, we should try our best to adapt ourselves to all kinds of persons and situations to such an extent that we can echo what St. Paul once said about become all things to all men for the sake of the salvation of man. (cfr. 1 Cor 9,22) This, we should try our best to do without losing our Christian identity.
As we all know, Christ is the Son of God who became man to recover us from our state of alienation from God due to sin. He went all the way to become like sin, without committing sin, if only to identify himself with us even in our worst condition. (cfr. 2 Cor 5,21) In so doing, he shows us the way of how we can recover our Christian dignity as God’s image and likeness, children of his, sharers of his divine life.
If we are consistent with our Christian identity, we should do the same. The challenge of adapting ourselves to all kinds of persons and situations is enormous. It is, in fact, overwhelming. But there’s always the grace of God to help us when we reach our human limits in this regard.
Fact is to make Christ present in the lives of all of us is next to impossible. And yet that is what we are asked to do. How would you, for example, transmit the doctrine of our faith, or show the beauty of the liturgy, etc., so full of mysteries, to different kinds of people, from kids to adults, from manual workers to intellectuals, etc.?
I always find this challenge unnerving. And yet that is what is always presented to us. What immediately comes to mind in trying to tackle this challenge is for us to truly exert the effort to know and accept people in the way they are, but always referring them to Christ with whom we should keep a living relationship.
Let’s remember that Christ was always adapting himself to the people, being flexible to everyone, and yet managed to accomplish his mission, whatever the situation was. He was not only passively adapting himself to the environment. He was also actively pursuing his goal in different ways. That’s versatility for you.
Eventually, he rounded off all these expressions of adaptability, flexibility and versatility by offering his life on the cross. There he made as his own all the sins of men, died to them and rose from the dead. He turned the cross from being a tree of sin and death into a tree of life. His death conquered sin and death, and reopened the door to eternal life for us.
To become Christ-like would indeed require a lifetime effort, but we can always start and develop it anytime. Let us not wait for some so-called opportune moment to be so. Any time, any situation can and should be an occasion to be like Christ. Obviously, we have to know Christ more and more. Thus, we need to be familiar with his life, his teachings and his example.
Let us put our mind and heart into this most important responsibility of ours.