REFLECTION: Fidelity and God’s surprises PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 25 October 2014 11:41

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

 

We need to be ready to hear some hard words from Christ. Yes, they can jolt us. But they are meant to wake us up, we who always have the tendency to get complacent, self-satisfied if not self-righteous.

We need to remind ourselves that no matter how harsh these words may sound, they are always meant for our own good. We have to be quick to relate them always to the other teachings that talk about joy and peace, our ultimate end, and thus get the whole picture.

One example: “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” (Lk 12,51) Or, “Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth. I came not to send peace, but the sword.” (Mt 10,34)

Frightening as they may sound, we have to relate them to his other words, like “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.” (Mt 5,9) Or, “Holy Father, keep them in your name whom you have given me, that they may be one as we also are one.” (Jn 17,11)

These latter teachings give the proper context in which the former words have to be viewed. They tell us that both peace and unity are a result of some effort. They just don’t come to us automatically. They have to be fought for and kept under close vigilance. They somehow imply that we need to make continuing conversion and renewal.

More importantly, we need to realize very deeply that peace and unity can only come from God. They are a grace, a gift fromGod. They just cannot be a product of our own making alone. And so we have to continually relate ourselves with God through our prayers, sacrifices, recourse to the sacraments, ascetical struggles, study of doctrine, etc.

Christ is always reminding us to be faithful and to continue fulfilling his will as it unfolds itself in an unendingprocess of deepening. But it’s a deepening that follows the consistency of God’s love, mercy and wisdom.

The surprises he seems to make do not nullify but would rather purify and enrich the previous stages of our knowledge regarding his will and his ways. They strike us as surprises because of our limited condition. We should not therefore be overly concerned about them. We should just accept them with humility, tranquility and gratitude.

That is when we can get along with the mysterious ways of God’s providence. We can remain awed as we discover more new things even as retain the old ones.  The things of God are always new and at the same time also old.

We have to be wary of getting trapped at a certain point of the way because of our human estimations of things that tempt us always to feel so contented that we would not anymore like to move on or to discover new things. Let’s be most careful with the tendency to convert God’s graces and charisms into mere human categories.

These human categories can be provided by our own sciences, philosophies, ideologies, politics, history, culture, social trends, etc. They are always useful, but only as means. We should not confuse them with our faith. Our faith transcends them while using them.

We have to put our passions and convictions more on our faith than on these human estimations. We have to be wary of the tendency of these human estimations to dominate us as to so enclose us in a certain system as to blind us to the impulses of faith through the Spirit.

So we have to be very careful with our categorization of people into conservative or liberal, for example, or into traditionalist or progressive, rightist or leftist, pro-this or pro-that, anti-this or anti-that. Our human prudence has to spring from a living contact with God, not just from some grounding on ideologies, philosophies, etc.

Since to distinguish between what is of true faith through the Spirit and what is simply our human estimations can be very tricky and confusing, we always have some need to be jolted and to be surprised. Ironic as it may sound, we should not be surprised with surprises. We need to expect them somehow.

In other words, our faith and sense of confidence in our hold of absolute truths should be dynamic, not static, living and growing, not inert. Being game with life and never leaving behind humor, without abandoning due sobriety either, are to my mind what are appropriate in playing the drama and game of life.