By: Fr. Roy Cimagala
IF we have to be practical in this life, exerting effort to attend and resolve all our issues and challenges, not to mention, to be truly being faithful and consistent to the living Christ who continues to be with us in the Holy Spirit, then we need to be tough, creative and flexible, and willing to get dirty without compromising what is essential.
And what is essential is simply to be with Christ who was willing to go through all the mess of our redemption. He was willing not only to get dirty, but also to offer his life on the cross for us. If we truly follow him, we cannot expect to experience anything less.
He himself said that if we want to follow him, we have to be ready not only to deny ourselves, but also to carry the cross. (cfr. Mt 16,24)
But Christ has reassured us that “in this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (Jn 16,33) So let’s just strengthen our faith in Christ, enliven our piety, and be a sport.
Pope Francis has been warning us that we should be ready to get dirty if we truly want to reach out to those who are far from Christ and his Church, those who are lost, those in the peripheries, those who so far have been neglected or inadequately attended to by the Church.
That Synod on the Amazon that stirred a lot of controversies was one way he was using to tackle that challenge of reaching out. The issues, problems, challenges there are definitely complex and complicated. They just have to be faced, and the Church just has to find new ways since the status quo is clearly not working.
And in this task of finding new ways and new paths, there definitely is great need for discernment of what the Holy Spirit, who guides us all, is telling us. Definitely this is not an easy task. This is where we can get dirty, where we can be thrown into confusion and even commit some errors. But again, God is on top and is in control. We just have to sharpen our skill of discernment that requires genuine sanctity from us.
We should not be afraid to tackle the pagan practices that can be found in certain parts of the world, and to engage in a dialogue with the different ideologies that can even be openly opposed to Christ and his Church. We have to reach out to everybody the way they are and see what things we can do to bring Christ to them and vice-versa.
What we have to avoid is to ignore them, to be aloof and indifferent to them, and much less, to consign them already to the definitive category of the lost and the hopelessly irredeemable. That would not be Christian.
Let us remember that Christ is alive through the Holy Spirit and continues to redeem us in ways that are appropriate to the circumstances of the times, place and people. While we already have articulated a lot of his will and ways, we can never presume that we have everything already mastered. That would straitjacket Christ into our own ideas and our legalisms, much like what the Pharisees of old did.
There is a need for constant discernment, which does not mean that we completely do away with what we already managed to define as God’s will and ways. And to be truly discerning, we should earnestly look for Christ, always asking for the light of the Holy Spirit. In other words, let’s be truly holy, always working on our sanctification, since that’s the only way we can listen clearly to what the Holy Spirit is prompting us.
Our problem today is that many people want an easy, fast and fantasy-like trouble-free kind of life, and are afraid even of the word, sanctification.