The need to adapt PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 15 July 2017 13:40

REFLECTION

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

“THIS is why I speak to them in parables, because they look but do not see, and hear but do not listen or understand.” (Mt 13,13) These are words of Christ that tell us why we too have to learn to adapt ourselves to others the way Christ adapted himself to us.

Not only has the Son of God become man. He also assumes the sinfulness of man without committing any sin, and as consequence, takes on the human condition of being weakened and wounded by sin, including being subjected to temptation and finally death.

He was always compassionate, quick to forgive, slow to anger. He was always thinking of his Father and of the people.

Remember him saying, “The one who sent me is true and what I heard from him I tell the world.” (Jn 8,26)

He gave preferential treatment to the children, the weak, the handicapped, the sick, the sinners. He was only allergic to the proud and self-righteous whose sense of right and wrong did not come from God, but rather from their own selves in their great variety of human consensus and other subtle forms of self-assertion. But on the cross, he asked forgiveness for everyone.

He was always adapting himself to the people, being flexible to everyone, and yet managed to accomplish his mission, whatever the situation was. He was not only passively adapting himself to the environment. He was also actively pursuing his goal in different ways. That’s versatility for you.

Eventually, he rounded off all these expressions of adaptability, flexibility and versatility by offering his life on the cross. There he made as his own all the sins of men, died to them and rose from the dead. He turned the cross from being a tree of sin and death into a tree of life. His death conquered sin and death, and opened the door to eternal life.

To be adaptable, flexible and versatile are qualities to have these days. With our increasingly complex times, we need to learn how to flow with the tide without losing our identity and real purpose in life. For this, we need to look closely at our Lord.

A quick look around would readily show that with all these fast-paced developments today, we can see a multiplying number of differences among ourselves not only in terms of age, character, temperament, social and economic status, but also of outlook, lifestyles, cultures.

But as St. Paul would put it, he had to be all things to all men. To the weak he became weak. To those under the law as if he was under the law, etc.  (cfr 1 Cor 9,21ff) And yet it was not as if he did not cling to something consistently. There was always something consistent in all his efforts of adaptation.

How can we achieve this ideal? How can we adapt to every person and situation and yet remain consistent as we ought? What would comprise our consistency? What things can be discarded to be adaptive, and what things ought to be kept regardless of circumstances in order to be consistent to our identity and dignity? What principle should we follow? What motives should drive us?

These questions should move us to pause, reflect and study the very word of God that contains the answer to them. If we look more at that Pauline passage, for example, we can see that the very motive of St. Paul’s adaptability is the salvation of souls.

Our adaptability should not just be a function of an exclusively practical and worldly value and purpose like convenience, or the pursuit for wealth, power and fame. Of course, these motives can be legitimate as long as they play an instrumental role, always subordinated to the necessary motive of our eternal salvation.

What is clear is that to be adaptive and consistent, we need to be vitally united to God who is love and truth himself.