By Fr. Roy Cimagala
THIS observation is clearly illustrated many times in the gospel. Many of the leading Jews in the times of Christ did not believe in Christ, and their idea of what is right and wrong was simply very subjective, held with a certain consensus among themselves. As a consequence, they always found fault in Christ and in his disciples for what they considered as violations of the law as they understood it. (cfr. Mk 3,1-6)
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.
Nowadays, there is so much surge of self-righteousness, such that the source of what is good and evil, fair and unfair, human and inhuman is not anymore God the Creator, but us. The distinction is not anymore made by God, but by us. We are now in the world of pure subjectivism.
Everything is now based on our views and opinions, our preferences and current understanding of things. If we can manage to have some kind of consensus, then that’s it! We can now consider as good what actually is inherently bad, and we make a world of make-believe that sooner or later will burst.
People now follow their own light, a very beguiling and unreliable light. They have forgotten what Christ said: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (Jn 8,12)
Because it is an understanding of righteousness that is not based on God, it is lived and pursued also without charity. It is always accompanied by the tendency to be fault-finders, negative and critical thinkers, etc. It tends to generate contention and division in society.
We should always be wary of this common tendency of ours, and fight it every time traces of it start to appear. This, of course, will require a lot of humility among us, so we can always feel the need to refer things to God rather than considering them solely according to our criteria and standards.
We have to understand that since God, being the Creator, is the standard of everything, we should regard him as the very substance of what is good, true and beautiful, what is fair and just, what is perfection itself.
Thus, to combat this tendency to be self-righteous that would lead us to be fault-finders, etc., we really need to develop an abiding and intimate relation with God!