By Fr. Roy Cimagala
“WOE to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You pay tithes of mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier things of the law: judgment and mercy and fidelity. But these you should have done, without neglecting the others. Blind guides, who strain out the gnat and swallow the camel!”
Words of Christ that definitely remind us that we have to learn how to be consistent amid life’s different dimensions: the little things and the big ones, the internal and external, the immediate and the ultimate, the temporal and the eternal, the material and the spiritual, the old and the new, etc.
Let’s see to it that we avoid getting trapped in one aspect at the expense of the other. Of course, given our human condition with our limitations and weaknesses, we may have to do a lot of balancing act, of give-and-takes, etc. But we should always be mindful of the need to pursue consistency and unity in our life. Otherwise, we would end up becoming hypocritical, rigid, unfair and self-righteous.
To attain that consistency and unity in our life, there is no other formula than to follow the example of Christ. He should always be the reference point in all our actions and in all the different situations in our life. He should always be the guide and the standard. After all, he is the very pattern of our humanity and he savior of our damaged humanity.
He teaches us how to blend the different aspects of our life, and how to have a universal outlook, so that everything in our life, no matter how different and even in conflict, can be properly resolved, even if it involves tremendous sacrifices.
With respect to the little and the big things in life, we should realize that while it’s true that we have to take care of the little things in our life, we should not forget that we are not meant to get detained there. We should always relate the little ordinary things in our life to the big and ultimate purpose of our life.
The same with the human and the spiritual and the supernatural dimensions of our life. Anomalies in this area can happen when in our confessions, for example, we accuse ourselves only of our failures to do our prayers, to offer sacrifices, to attend some daily Masses, etc., without mentioning how we have fared in our graver duty to do apostolate, to Christianize our work and society in general, to reach out to the poor and the needy, to be forgiving of others who may have wronged us, etc.
This is not to say that our prayers, sacrifices, recourse to the sacraments, etc., are not important. They are, and they should not be regarded as optional, as a matter of fact. They are indispensable too.
But if our failures in this department do not have the corresponding effects on the more important aspects of Christian life, there is reason to think that we are just mistaking the means for the end, the material for the spiritual, the temporal for the eternal, the natural for the supernatural, the material compliance of certain duties for their real effects.
We need to wake up from this anomaly, because like the Pharisees and the scribes of old, we could justly be accused by Christ to be hypocrites. And actually, many people today can also see that. We would simply be caring of the externals without the internal, the form and appearance without the substance.