By Fr. Roy Cimagala
LET’S be wary of our tendency to be fault-finders, negative thinkers, incorrigible critics, etc. This tendency usually springs from a brand of righteousness that is not properly rooted on the real source of righteousness who can only be God, as shown to us by Christ and inspired in us by the Holy Spirit. It is more self-righteousness.
This tendency was graphically illustrated in that gospel episode where some Jews went to watch Christ preaching, more to find something to accuse him of. (cfr. Lk 6,6-11) Christ, of course, knowing their intentions, asked a man with a withered hand to stand up and asked, “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?”
Well, we know what happened next. And these Jews still scrambled to find ways of how to trap Christ. Their self-righteousness was so strong and deep that in spite of the obvious divine power shown by Christ, they still could not believe him. They even became more intense in their suspicions of Christ.
We have to be most wary of this spiritual anomaly that can come to us anytime. It usually takes advantage of our natural inclination to seek the truth, the good and the beautiful in life—in short, what is right—and corrupts that inclination because it is not properly rooted on the ultimate source of righteousness who is God himself. It’s so blinding that it can even assume the appearance of holiness.
Most prone to this illness are those with some special endowments in life, be it intelligence, talents, wealth, fame, power, health, beauty, etc. When all these gifts are not clearly grounded and oriented toward God, the source of all righteousness, the problem starts.
This is the irony of ironies because one can earnestly pursue the path of holiness and does practically everything to be good and holy, and yet ends up the opposite of what is intended. That’s when one practically has the trappings of goodness and holiness and yet misses the real root of righteousness who is God.
To deal with this tendency properly, we have to see to it that in whatever we do, we should always have purity of intention. And that can only happen when everything we do, from our thoughts, desires to our words and deeds, is done for the glory of God and for none other.
We need to actively purify our intentions, since we have to contend with many spoilers in this regard these days. In fact, we just have to look around and see how openly opposed many people are of directing their intentions to God.
Our intentions should only have at their core the love of God, the giving glory to God. As St. Paul once indicated, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever else you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor 10,31) That’s how our acts become good, or moral. Otherwise, they are bad, or at least dangerous.
This is so, since God, being the Creator, is the standard for everything. And more than the standard, he is, in fact, the very substance of what is good, true and beautiful, what is fair and just, what is perfection itself.
Christ himself said it quite clearly: “Where your treasure is, there is your heart also.” (Mt 6,21) We need to ground our heart firmly on God, filling it with love and goodness even if heroic efforts are needed.