The natural and the supernatural

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

WE have to learn to live in the natural world while pursuing our supernatural goal. This aspect of Christian life is somehow highlighted in that gospel episode where Christ talked about his impending passion, death and resurrection, and proceeded to ask Peter if Christ also should pay taxes. (cfr. Mt 17,22-27)

In that gospel, Christ implied that as the son of God, he ought to be exempted from paying taxes, but so as not to offend the earthly authorities, he decided that he too should pay the tax. Here Christ is showing us how to live naturalness which we have to learn.

Naturalness has something to do with how to handle our human condition considering what we ought to be and what we are at the moment. Fact is, we have a supernatural goal, nothing less than to be united with God, which we have to pursue in the context of our human and natural world.

Naturalness is about how to mix the spiritual and material dimensions of our life, our personal and social aspects, and other elements in our life that, given the way we are, appear to compete with each other. How to integrate and harmonize them is the task of naturalness.

Naturalness is a very active affair, lived day to day, moment to moment, as we grapple with the continuous flow of our concerns. It’s the front man who does the dirty job of the bigger virtues of discretion, prudence and ultimately charity, the foot soldier who does the hand-to-hand combat, the peddler who does the door-to-door selling.

It has to know when to push and when to pull, what to say and show and what to be quiet about and hide. Obviously, it has to follow a game plan, with a clear goal in mind and a detailed knowledge of all the elements it has to contend with.

It has to know when to be active and when to be passive, when to be aggressive and when to be patient and tolerant. Of course, in our spiritual life, these elements while initially contrasting, can be blended and lived simultaneously, obviously an effect of grace and our cleverness.

It also has to know how to project oneself to the future, given the data of the present and of the past. It has to learn how to relate history and current events with eternity. It should know how to connect the mundane with the sacred.

Naturalness is strengthened when we deepen in our convictions about our ultimate goal as well as in our continuing observations and growing wealth of experience of passing things.

The secret to blending all these apparently contrasting elements in our life is to pray always. When we keep our conversation with God going, we certainly would know what is proper for us to do at any given moment.

Prayer should be kept alive always and we should just try our best to find the appropriate ways to achieve it amid the changing circumstances of our day and despite setbacks, mistakes, failures and the sins that we may commit along the way.

We have to be wary of our strong tendency to converse only with our own selves or, at least from time to time, with others. We need to talk to God. Without him, there is no way but simply for us to be confused, tempted and eventually fall.