By Fr. Roy Cimagala
IF we have to be consistent with our Christian identity, then we have to be ready to be a sign of contradiction, as Christ himself was and continues to be. Let’s not forget that prophecy made by Simeon when the child Jesus was presented in the temple. “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted and you yourself (Mary) a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Lk 2,34-35)
We have to train ourselves to be tough with the toughness of Christ so we can take on any and all forms of contradictions that we can encounter in life. Yes, we can be misunderstood, slandered, mocked, persecuted and even martyred in this life. But we should not worry, because as Christ himself assured us, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take courage; I have overcome the world!” (Jn 16,33)
Our toughness should be the toughness of Christ who was and continues to be willing to bear all the problems of men, and goes all the way to offer his life for the salvation of men.
With Christ and in him, our toughness would also know how to be tender and gentle, how to be understanding, compassionate and empathetic, as described in this passage from the gospel of St. Matthew: “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not extinguish, till he leads justice to victory.” (12,20)
While our toughness will always be a fruit, first of all, of God’s grace, it will also depend on our proper attitude, skills and virtues. What we have to do first is to rein in but not suppress our emotions and passions, subjecting them to the tenets of our faith rather than just the impulses of our hormones.
We have to learn how not to overdramatize the pain and suffering involved in bearing the burdens of others. This is important because this will help us to think more objectively, and therefore enabling us to make better judgments and assessments of things.
What can also be helpful is the consideration that when we exert the effort—sometimes the heroic effort—to bear the burdens of the others with Christ, we are actually already helping them greatly. It is the truth about the communion of saints that assures us that whatever we suffer for the others will always redound to their own good.
We need to remember that everything is under God’s control. If some bad things happen to us, it must be because there is a reason and a purpose behind it. We need to see the bigger picture that God provides us through our faith, hope and charity. We should not be guided simply by our own estimation of things. We have to go to God.
Let’s remember that as long as we are with God, as long as we believe and love him, everything will always work out for the good. (cfr. Rom 8,28) He knows how to derive good from evil, since everything depends on him, he being the Creator of all things. No matter how a creature goes against him, that creature cannot overcome him.
We need to channel and assimilate this wonderful truth of our faith into our emotional and psychological systems which are where our useless worrying takes place.