God can test our faith

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

WE should not be surprised by this phenomenon. Rather, we should welcome such eventuality, for it can only produce a greater good in us. We are reminded of this fact of life in that gospel episode where a Syrophoenician woman begged Christ to drive the demon away from her daughter. (cfr. Mk 7,24-30)

At first, Christ refused the importuning of the poor woman, giving her a response that was a bit insulting. “Let the children be fed first,” he said. “For it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.”

But the woman persisted, even making a reasoning that left Christ very impressed. “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps,” she replied. With those words, we can say that Christ could not help but do what the woman asked. And the daughter was healed.

We have to be ready when we receive such tests of our faith from God. Like that woman, we should just persist, for God cannot stay long in being indifferent to our needs. He always listens and comes to our aid.

For this, we need to develop a certain toughness in our faith and piety. We should avoid being oversensitive to what we may perceive as God’s indifference to our needs. We have to follow the toughness not only of that woman but also and most especially of Christ himself, who gave himself entirely by dying on the cross if only to save us.

We need to train ourselves in this kind of toughness that would enable us to take on anything in our life. What we have to avoid is the phenomenon now described in the British slang of the word “snowflake.” As described by some people, a snowflake “is a term used to describe an overly sensitive person who thinks the world revolves around them.”

Such person “gasps in horror when he hears an opinion he does not like, and believes he has a right to be protected from anything unpalatable.” He is “self-obsessed and fragile, easily offended, or unable to deal with opposing opinions.”

When we truly follow Christ, we take the initiative to approach and be friendly with everybody, regardless of who or how they are. We would not be easily scandalized by whatever defects, failures, offenses or sins others may have. In fact, these conditions would draw our attention and affection for them more.

In other words, we do not wait for other people to show some signs that they deserve to be loved or cared for by us. Our constant attitude is to love everyone automatically, showing keen interest in everyone and eagerness to help in any way.

This does not mean that we do away with the difference between good and evil, truth and falsehood, what is moral and immoral. We should not condone evil, but we have to learn how to deal with evil in all its forms in a charitable way.

Evil is defanged by goodness, not by another evil, as in going into hatred, anger, revenge, indifference, etc. Whatever malice there is can always be overcome by the goodness of God’s mercy as shown by Christ who asked for forgiveness even for those who crucified him.

God’s mercy will always have the last word. As St. Paul said, “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” (Rom 5,20) Obviously to overcome evil with goodness will always involve suffering, for which we have to ready. That is why we need to be tough.

We have to teach our heart not to be easily overtaken by anger and other bad emotions and passions. Let us teach it how to be tough with the toughness of Christ’s love and mercy.

Email: roycimagala@gmail.com