REFLECTION: Much given, much expected PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 24 October 2014 12:32

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

 

We are all familiar with that gospel lesson that those who have been blessed and gifted much, much is also expected and demanded. “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” (Lk 12,48)

This sounds commonsensical enough. We don’t have to argue about it. The problem is how to apply this rule to specific situations and how to ‘quantify’ the ‘much’ involved in what is given and what is demanded.

Considering the way the world is now, plunged as it is in confusion, ignorance, error, if not in sin, perversions and other

anomalies—all this in spite of the many advances in many fields of our life—getting to know the answers to these questions is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Take the case of the controversy arising from the recently concluded synod on the family. There is definitely a need to reach out to people in some difficult situations, like those who are divorced and remarried and still would want to be faithful Catholics, or those with homosexual tendencies who want to be true to their Christian faith.

This is not to mention that we need to reach out to them even if they do not want to be faithful. They are usually referred to as ‘the weak and the lost’ or the ‘unchurched,’ the ‘uncatechized,’ etc. If we have to follow Christ closely, we have to have that attitude.

But, in the first place, there are some of those affected who do not even acknowledge there’s something wrong with them. As if there is anyone in this planet, whether in regular marital status or not, whether straight or not, who is completely free of anything wrong. Who to deal with these people, and how, is a question needing clear answers.

The same question, of course, can be poised with respect to those who acknowledge their predicament. It’s not an easy question to answer, since not just anyone can do it for sheer lack of pertinent skills, aptitude if not of spirituality. People with the appropriate gifts should do it, people who are strong enough to carry the weak.

In general terms, we perhaps can say that the clergy should lead the way in dealing with this challenge. After all, they

(we, me included) with their sacramental priesthood have certainly been given much in terms of grace and training, and they are in touch with just about everyone, at least in theory.

But can we really say that they are generally trained for this? We just have to take a quick look around and see clearly that, first of all, they are not enough to handle this situation. Then, they are burdened with all sorts of duties, responsibilities and tasks.

Then, they simply cannot go far beyond giving generic reminders and suggestions. As far as I know, many of them are not trained to handle counselling and spiritual direction. There’s even a big problem about encouraging them to sit in confessionals to hear confessions.

And with these faithful who have to be reached out, what is needed is special, personalized attention. They just cannot be given the normal things, for the simple reason that they are not yet in the proper condition. They need a lot of talking, clarification, encouragement, counselling, spiritual direction, etc.

Our Church leaders should come up with appropriate structures and programs to tackle this challenge—but structures that are properly animated with the true spirit of God, and not just purely human structures and programs that just can be turned on and off at one’s convenience.

We can already make use of the many groups which, animated with a certain charism, are doing some pastoral work. These are the charismatic groups, the Basic Ecclesial Communities, and other organizations apostolic in character. Schools, too, can be tapped.

The laity, more than the clergy, to my mind would be most appropriate to carry out this task. They are spread out all over and can easily get in touch and journey with these people in special conditions. They therefore have to be properly motivated and trained. Their competence to do this task should be clear.

It’s quite obvious that for this concern to be effective, the dealings have to be based on real friendship and confidence. They just cannot be done in a professional or clinical level.

It might be good to revisit the points articulated in the ‘Familiaris consortio’ of St. John Paul II to give us a clear idea of how to deal with special cases.