REFLECTION: Charity amid differences and conflicts PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 08 November 2011 14:32

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

We have to learn to see Christ in everyone, including those with whom we may have serious differences or are in conflict. We have to go beyond seeing others in a purely human way without, of course, neglecting the human and natural in us.

In short, we have to see others in a spiritual way, within the framework of faith, hope and charity. Otherwise we cannot avoid getting entangled in our limited and conflict-prone earthly condition. And no amount of human justice and humanitarianism can fully resolve this predicament.

Thus, we need to develop and hone our skills of looking at others beyond the merely physical, social, economic, cultural or political way. While these aspects are always to be considered, we should not be trapped by them.

There are many reasons for this. First would be that we are all brothers and sisters, created by God in his image and likeness, and made children of his through his grace.

In spite of our differences—race, culture, beliefs, etc.—we are meant to care and love one another. Thus, our Lord told us to “love your neighbour as I have loved you.” (Jn 13,34)

And how did Christ love us? By becoming man and assuming all our sinfulness, dying to it to give us a new life in him. His love was for everyone, and especially for those who were weak and handicapped not so much in the physical sense as in the moral sense.

That’s why he was close to the sinners, fraternizing with them. He would only show his dislike to those who were self-righteous. Just the same, he loved all as proven by the fact that before dying on the cross, he asked forgiveness from his Father for those who crucified him.

We have to expand and deepen our attitudes towards others. Are we willing to think always of them, keenly observant of how they are? Are we moved to pray for them and to leap to their assistance when the chance comes?

Our problem is that we tend to think always of ourselves, and our view of the others is mainly shaped by purely human motives that cannot reach the level of charity that can love everyone regardless of conditions and circumstances.

Let’s remember that as St. Paul said, we have to “bear each other’s burdens.” (Gal 6,2) Do we have that kind of outlook? Are we quick to help others even to the point of inconveniencing ourselves?

We have to start dismantling attitudes, habits and practices that keep us imprisoned in our own world, mistakenly thinking that these actually would make us happy or are good for us.

These past days I had had the luck of meeting simple people who are thinking only of others. I did not hear any negative remark from them about anyone, and frankly, I felt so good talking to them. It was a joy to be with them.

Our problem is that we tend to just gossip and gossip, our mouth and tongue quite on their own with hardly any supervision from a higher agency in our system. We are also affected by our prejudices and biases. Of course, we tend to forget charity when we encounter sharp differences with others.

We have to follow the example of Christ who tried to find something good even in those who were doing wrong. For example, one time he told his disciples to continue observing what their religious leaders taught them, but not to follow their example, because they do not practice what they preach. (cfr Mt 23,2)

He made that distinction between what was taught and what was practiced, and did not lump up the right teaching with the wrong practice. We should be quick to find the right and the good things that can go together with the bad and wrong things.

Even with handling of dishonest money, he showed goodness of heart. Christ recommended that we “make friends with dishonest money,” so that when it fails we can still be welcomed to heaven. (cfr Lk 16,9)

It’s not that we ought to foster dishonesty, but rather to learn how to make do and make use of evil things in this world to do good. This conclusion can be gleaned from the fact that our Lord summarized the whole episode by saying, “No servant can serve two masters...You cannot serve God and mammon.”

We need to be pro-active in seeing Christ in everyone and in eliciting true charity when we relate to them, regardless of the circumstances.