REFLECTION: Strict with self, lenient with others PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 08 January 2015 13:48

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

 

If we want to have a good formula of how we ought to behave in general, this would be it. We have to be strict with ourselves as much as possible, and just as much as possible too, we need to be lenient with others.

We can safely say that this was the mode of behaviour of Christ himself, who is our way, truth and life. No one could be stricter with his own self than Christ himself. The very canon of what is true, good and beautiful for us, he held to that principle consistently, without any gap.

Even all his efforts at naturalness so as to be one with us did not make any break in his being strict with his own self. He managed to pray always, even getting up way before daybreak just to go to a secluded place to pray.

In fact, from birth to death, he was always characterized by poverty, detachment, austerity, even if all of these were also lived in good taste. Let’s remember that when he was stripped of his garments for his crucifixion, the soldiers were astonished to discover that his tunic was first-class. It was seamless.

Precisely that vivid description of St. Paul about the self-emptying of Christ speaks of how strict Christ was with his own self. Not only did he, being God, allow himself to become man, he went all the way to offer his life on the cross. Can anyone be more strict than he is?

And yet, he was most open to others, no matter how much they offended him. He was simply game with them, or at least, just kept quiet and bore everything in silence. He even offered to ask for forgiveness for those who crucified him.

Christ always respects the freedom of men, however it is used, for the good or for evil. His love for us is such that he is above whatever immorality we may commit. He came to save, not to condemn. If someone is condemned, it would not be because of Christ, but rather because of that person concerned.

Christ is only concerned with showing us the true nature of love and its full range, which would include his eternal mercy and compassion. He gives us the grace necessary for it, and the many means by which this love can be lived. He gives himself completely to us, sparing nothing.

It now depends on us whether we will correspond to his love and goodness. That is why he gave that new commandment that summarized and perfected all the other commandments. “Love one another as I have loved you.”

It is the love that involves being very strict with oneself while always being lenient with everybody else. It’s the love that never responds to evil with another evil. Rather, it is the kind that drowns evil with an abundance of good.

We need to learn this kind of love from Christ. We have to convince ourselves that this is the only love that is proper to us. More than that, we should have no doubt that this love is possible and doable, because Christ himself has given us everything for us to live it.

We have to do our part. While it’s true that we are always conditioned by many elements like our temperament, our physical, emotional and mental health, our social and economic status, etc., we have to learn also how to go beyond them, and not simply be restricted by them.

God’s grace for this purpose is never lacking, and the effort needed simply depends on us completely. Part of the strictness we have to exercise on ourselves is precisely to be willing to be patient, to bear whatever needs to be borne, and doing it cheerfully, without complaint.

May it be that we can get beyond our personal preferences and biases, that we can learn to love and understand everyone no matter how different they are to us, or worse, offensive. Ours should only be to do good to others, even if our efforts would not be reciprocated.

We have to learn to be magnanimous, and also to be quick to discover anything good, no matter how small, in any person or situation, even if that good is dominated by a lot of evil.

Let’s pray for the grace and work it out also so that we can reach a point where we would not be scandalized by any evil, but rather would always be moved to help and to love more, so conversion and transformation would take place.