Charity requires toughness

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

WHEN Christ talked about the lost sheep and how the good shepherd would do everything to find it (cfr. Mt 18,12-14), he must be telling us that we should be tough in our love and care for one another, such that even if someone is in grave error, we should do our best to help and save him rather than leave him to remain lost.

This is the charity Christ is showing us. It’s the charity that is meant for us. With God’s grace, let us learn to develop that charity, cultivating the relevant allied virtues of optimism, patience and fidelity, so that instead of being turned off or scandalized by the evils of others, we would even rev up our concern and solicitude for those in some form of disorder.

We need to be tough in this life, otherwise, we will fail to follow Christ who is the epitome of how we should be since he is the pattern of our humanity, the savior of our damaged humanity, the “way, the truth and the life” for us.

Christ was tough to carry out his mission of saving us. He knew from the beginning that he would be betrayed by someone close to him, that he would suffer and die a most ignominious death, but these did not deter him from pursuing his mission. His love for us was and is such that he can take on anything that would come his way.

Christ already warned us of the kind of suffering to expect in our life. “They will seize and persecute you,” he said. (Lk 21,12) “You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death.” (Lk 21,16)

All these should not affect our charity. If anything at all, we should even be more charitable with those who give us trouble. Thus, St. Paul described such charity when he said that “love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Cor 13,7) Christ already reassured us that as long as suffer with him, we will also have the victory of his resurrection.

In other words, we have to learn how to be friends with everyone regardless of how they are, because only then can we help them to attain the ultimate goal common to all of us. We also have to learn how to deal with any situation, no matter how difficult and ugly, not so much in physical terms as in the spiritual and moral. If we are truly Christian, we would have his desire “not to condemn the world but to save.” (cfr. Jn 3,17)

As one saint said it, we should be willing to go to the very gates of hell, without entering it, of course, if only to save a soul. This obviously would require of us to be tough and clear about the real goal to reach, and yet flexible and adaptable to any person and to any condition.

In this regard, we have to learn how to fraternize with sinners. We have to replicate Christ’s attitude towards sinners, who actually are all of us—of course, in varying degrees. We have to give special attention to the lost sheep and to the lost coin. We have to open all possible avenues to be in touch with all sinners.