Charity is madness

By: Fr. Roy Cimagala

THERE is no doubt about it. If we truly live the virtue of charity that reflects, echoes and replicates the love of God for us, we should be ready to fall into some madness. We have to be ready to be some kind of madmen.

This charity will surely overwhelm all our ideas of rationality, common sense, justice, etc. It would require us to go beyond our human powers and to allow the supernatural power of grace to take hold of us, leading us to where we rather would not go.

This phenomenon should not surprise us, because the charity that we talking about here is something supernatural. It will always involve some mysteries, some truths and ways that are beyond our comprehension. It will make possible what is impossible to us.

This charity cannot develop in us by using our human powers alone. But we have to be clear about a certain point. The supernatural character of charity does not do away with its natural and human aspects. In fact, it demands the full cooperation of our natural and human powers. What it does is to purify the natural and human, and to expand and elevate it to the level of God’s love.

Just consider again the description St. Paul made of this virtue. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is notself-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Cor13,4-7)

I wonder if we do not get some goose-bumps just going through those words. Are they practicable, we are likely to ask? Is this not some kind of madness? Who can really observe them?

Well, Christ did all this. He put these words into action, especially in his passion, death and resurrection. He even taught us to love our enemies, to offer the other cheek is we are slapped in one, and to go two miles if we are challenged to walk one mile.

We are taught to be magnanimous and merciful, always offering forgiveness to those who may have offended us. We are taught to be generous without counting the cost, since every good thing we have is freely given to us by God and therefore we ought to also freely give good things to others. We are taught not to be afraid to lose all our earthly treasures so we can gain the one that never fades.

This is the madness of love. Even in our human love affairs, we already show traces of these signs of madness. We are willing to make sacrifices for our loved ones. Mothers will never hesitate to clean up the mess of their babies. Fathers are willing to work long hours just to support the family. Lovers are willing to go to far distances just to be near their beloved.

Charity definitely breaks down our natural and human limitations to enable us to identify with our beloved who is ultimately God. But along the way, we have to learn how to give charity with the others who, in a manner of speaking, are our way of reaching God. As St. John said: “If we do not love people whom we see, how can we love God whom we cannot see?” (1 Jn 4,20)

There are times when we find loving God easier than loving people. We should bridge that gap. For loving God in theory, in intention and in some other spiritual operations would be proven false if it is not supported by loving people—and all kinds of people, including those who consider themselves our enemies.

The test of real charity is when we can manage to echo from our heart, one of Christ’s last words: “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they are doing.”