By Fr. Roy Cimagala
LET’S remember always that God has a special concern for those who have less in life, like the simple and the weak, the sick and disabled, the children and the poor. And it gives him much pain if we would scandalize them, either through our culpable neglect of them or, worse, by leading them to sin.
This truth of our faith is somehow highlighted in that gospel episode where Christ preached about the need to be like little children to enter the kingdom of heaven, the care not to despise the little children, and his intent always to look for the lost sheep, regardless of the cost and effort involved. (cfr. Mt 18,1-5.10.12-14)
Let’s take note of what Christ once said about the kingdom of heaven. He went as far as to say that it is for little children precisely because of their simplicity: “Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come to me. For the kingdom of heaven is for such.” (Mt 19,14)
We need to devise an interior mechanism, more spiritual than material, to keep ourselves like children even as we grow in worldly knowledge and skills, and prone to thinking that we can already live by ourselves, independently of God.
This mechanism can include anything that fosters our presence of God all throughout the day, the practice of rectifying our intention and relating everything that we do to God. We should feel the need for God always, earnest in our effort to look for him in everything that we do.
We have to break the barrier of awkwardness and incompetence in this regard. We actually have the means. What’s missing is our will to use this mechanism.
And lest we think simplicity is naivete, and gullibility, let’s remind ourselves of what our Lord said: “Be wise as serpents and simple as doves.” (Mt 10,16) Simplicity would not be true simplicity if it does not come with cleverness and shrewdness. We just have to find ways of how we can blend these two apparently contrasting qualities together.
And if we are truly Christian, we should have true and abiding compassion toward everyone, especially the poor and the needy. But we have to understand that compassion should have a universal coverage. It should not be limited to the sentimental aspects of things, nor to relieving the economic and material needs of people alone.
It should cover the whole range of human needs in their proper order of importance, foremost of which is our need for God. We have to learn to distinguish between the pressing and precious needs of man, and to cope with the tension that sometimes arises in our effort to put these two kinds of human needs together.
In this concern, we have to understand that the poor may not be the one who are economically poor. They can be the richest, the most educated, the most famous and powerful, but who happen to be farthest from God. They can turn out, in that context, to be the poorest of the poor, the lost sheep that have strayed farthest from God.
They pose as the most difficult challenge in our duty to show compassion, to reflect in our life God’s love for all. Are we in the first place aware of this reality? Are we up to the challenge? Do we know how to tackle this problem?