Be not scandalized! PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 15 December 2015 11:25

REFLECTION

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

To scandalize is to lead others to sin. To be scandalized is to fall into sin because of the sin of another. We should all try to avoid one and the other. Thus, we should try our best to always give good example to the others, in the tenor expressed by St. Paul once: “Be imitators of me as I am of Christ.” (1 Cor 11,1)

But in a world practically swamped with all kinds of temptations, sins and scandals, we should also really learn how not to be scandalized. Sins and scandals, if we are not careful, also beget other sins and scandals. It’s in their DNA.

We start to be scandalized, for example, when we stay too long in feeling bad when we see the mistakes, failures and sins of the others. Of course, our spontaneous reaction when we see these negative events is to feel bad, but to stay long there can lead us to fall into sin.

That’s when we can start doubting God and his providence, weakening our hope and falling into a state of sadness that is fraught with dangers, or into discouragement and despair. Or we can start thinking badly of the others, planning to make revenge or getting back, or gossiping, etc.

Yes, sin and scandals, if not handled properly, can be contagious and can spark an epidemic. That is why we need to be strong even as we retain the sensitivity and simplicity of children.

St. Paul described this well when he said: “Do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.” (1 Cor 14,20) This is an echo of what Christ himself said: “Be wise as serpents but innocent as doves.” (Mt 10,16)

If we have faith and are willing to accept the consequences of our Christian faith, we can manage to blend together these two apparently contrasting qualities. The secret is faith. Without it, we may manage to have an appearance of that blend, but sooner or later, we would end up falling into some kind of anomaly, like schizophrenia. So, beware!

With faith, we would learn how to get dirty in this world, which is unavoidable, but without staining or spoiling our mind and heart, our conscience. We can simply be sport about everything in this

life, putting humor into things, but without losing our direction. With faith, we would learn how to suffer the way Christ and the saints suffered, but without losing hope. Rather, we would be convinced that suffering is an integral part of our salvation and joy.

Yes, we really have to learn how to suffer and to be patient. While it’s true that we can and should always try to avoid problems and difficulties, we should also be ready to bear them when they would come our way, fully convinced of their redemptive value.

For this, we simply have to look at Christ, at our Lady and all saints who always find suffering as the way to our redemption. We have to realize that no matter what we do, we cannot avoid suffering and death.

The secret is simply to identify ourselves more and more with Christ. This way, we can reprise in ourselves what Christ himself did in the face of his passion and death—simply believing and following the Father’s will: “Not my will but yours be done.”

This, of course, will require a deep act of faith. But with God’s grace, this is very doable. We can learn to acquire the proper attitude and skill in dealing with our earthly suffering that is due to sin.

This is how we can become invincible to the destructive effects of the temptations, sins and scandals around us. When we learn to suffer the way Christ suffered, not only can we bear the effects of sin. We would be willing to suffer more to cover more sins of this world, and to cooperate more intimately in the continuing redemptive work of Christ who counts on us.

Our attitude and reaction to temptations, sin and scandals would be based on the spiritual and the supernatural. That way, we put the whole phenomenon of human suffering in its proper context and perspective.

So to bear suffering well and thus learn how not to be scandalized, we need to pray. We need to have recourse of the sacraments. We need to train ourselves in the ways of self-denial, mortification and sacrifice and the development of virtues. We need to deepen our faith by studying and assimilating well the doctrine of ourfaith.