By Fr. Roy Cimagala
THIS is a common danger against which we have to be duly guarded. It can happen to us anytime, especially when we already have lived a life of piety for a number of years. If we are not careful, this danger can creep in because we may not realize that our piety has been corrupted by complacency and routine. It’s a piety in appearance only, but not in substance.
“No prophet is accepted in his own native place.” (Lk 4,24) This was Christ’s indictment against the people of his own place who, instead of being amazed and thankful for having among them not only a very special person but the very son of God, found Christ too much for them, and were in fact scandalized by him.
This is what familiarity is all about and what it produces. As an adage would put it, familiarity breeds contempt. It is the state of getting too accustomed to God and to his goodness such that we would not feel the urge anymore to thank and praise him for everything that we have and enjoy, since all these things come from him.
Familiarity can come because we simply would let our senses, feelings and our other ways of purely human estimation to guide us, rather than our faith, and its necessary companions of hope and charity that should come with God’s grace for which we should always ask.
We have to be more aware of this danger of familiarity and install the necessary defenses against it. More than that, we have to aggressively cultivate the art of always being amazed at God and at all his works. That should be the proper state for us to be in.
We have to understand, though, that this abiding state of amazement that we should try to develop is not a matter simply of sensations. Of course, it would be good if we can always feel amazed and in awe. But given the limitations of our bodily organism, we cannot expect that to happen all the time.
For this amazement to happen, we should always feel the need to renew and purify our love for God and others. That’s simply because of the tension between our nature and our supernatural goal, not to mention our present wounded human condition that is prone to temptations and sin and to all kinds of weaknesses. We unavoidably have to contend with these conditions in our earthly life.
In other words, we have to learn how to live in the mysteries involved in the supernatural life of God in which we are meant to share, even while we are still here in this world.
The task we have is how to correspond to this tremendous reality of living our life within the whole mystery of God’s life. Many of us still think that we are quite by ourselves, and the decision to relate ourselves with God and others is purely optional.
No, sir. Our relationship with God, while an option—in fact, a fundamental option—is never optional, something we can feel quite free to have or not to have. We would be incomplete without God.
We need to be more aware of this marvelous truth. And from there, to start the lifelong journey of conforming our life to that of God, overcoming first our initial human awkwardness in the face of our supernatural goal, and then developing the virtues that little by little resemble us with God.