REFLECTION: Tolerance, flexibility fruit of charity PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 25 April 2014 11:21

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

 

Given our current situation, we cannot expect our present life to be simple, filled with peace and harmony. We should rather expect it to be complicated, full of tension, and that is because we are complicated ourselves. We have to be prepared to handle this predicament.

Our Christian faith tells us that such complication springs from our separation from God who, as our creator, is the very foundation of reality, the source of everything true, good and beautiful. Everything ought to be referred to him to know what is true and what is not.

This is how we can aspire to achieve a state of unified vision and understanding of things amid characteristic variety we can find in our life, given the many legitimate differences among ourselves. But this truth requires faith, a free gift from God which we can either accept or refuse, or worse, be indifferent to.

As we can readily see, the as-is-where-is condition of the world today is far from the ideal. Many of us, even those who profess to be pious and religious, not to mention those who openly claim to be sceptics, agnostics and atheists, are not in working unity with God.

Thus we have to learn how to cruise in our complicated world without fleeing from it and at the same time without compromising the truth. That, indeed, is a combination very difficult to make. But with God’s grace, it is not impossible either.

We just have to learn how to be patient and tolerant, open-minded, slow to judge, with a good grip on our emotions and passions, and ready to understand, to disregard irritating details and to forgive and ask forgiveness, as well adept in the art of congenial dialogue, avoiding being abrupt and abrasive.

Obviously, what should drive all these qualities is our growing and deepening love for God whose love for us precisely goes all the way in spite of our lack of correspondence and even open hostility to him.

Absent this love, we cannot really go far in our effort to understand one another and achieve a measure of unity and harmony among ourselves. Sooner or later, we will end up squabbling that can degenerate into bitter conflicts and almost irreparable divisions among ourselves.

Very crucial in this regard is the ability to handle what is absolute and relative in our life, what is dogma and what is opinion. Many times, these distinctions get blurred, leading to confusion, and often explosive confusion and conflict.

We need to look at Christ closely and see him as the perfect model of how to handle our complicated life, how to be faithful to God in spite of the many elements that tend to bring us wildly everywhere and nowhere.

He was clear about what he had to do, say and accomplish in his earthly redemptive life. He was open to all the possibilities that man exercises his freedom, whether rightly or wrongly. He was forceful with the forcefulness of charity that knows how to be patient and merciful.

We just have to learn how to incarnate this example of Christ who is our Way, Truth and Life. And so we need to learn how to be tolerant but also single-minded in our purpose in life.

We have to be wary of our tendency to fall into bitter zeal, a kind of misplaced zeal to defend the truth but sacrificing charity. This bitter zeal can be manifested in our proclivity to simply dominate others, to score points, to be the one to say the last word, and to consider oneself the standard and measure of things.

It’s a zeal that does not know how to wait. It does not see the value of suffering in all of its forms, including being misunderstood and misrepresented. Remember that Christ many times did not mind being misunderstood.

While it’s true that we too have to live by the tenets of justice, we should also see to it that our sense of justice springs from a vital union with God in order to know where justice ends to let charity play out its fullest range in our life. This way, we can act more fully according to God’s plan for our redemption.

Otherwise we will puff up justice without anymore the substance of charity. And even if God can always countenance this and do something about it, we somehow would be adding to the complications in the world.

We really need to learn how to be tolerant and flexible which only take place if we are driven by true charity.