Refinement of charity PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 09 June 2016 13:28

REFLECTION

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’ will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.” (Mt 5,21-22)

How relevant these words of Christ are these days when we hear a lot of killing people who “deserve to be killed” for a number of reasons. Admittedly, times are getting very difficult, what with all the rising criminality around and the proliferating shenanigans of hoodlums from high and low.

But should we just incite people to do some killing to solve these problems without some guidelines? Would we not be leaping from the pan to the fire that way? Would we not convert our land into some kind of Wild, Wild West?

We need to think deeply regarding our current situation.

Do we think charity is incompatible with justice, or with some use of force to maintain peace and order in society? I don’t think so.

Charity covers this aspect of justice and use of force, but it goes far beyond.

We, as a people, really need to rev up our true Christian life, getting more faithful to Christ’s teaching and example, rather than regressing to the law of Talion of “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.”

We should not distort its true nature, reducing it to some pious and sweet sentimentalism devoid of some forcefulness. Remember that Christ himself also got angry and used some force, driving sellers and vendors from the temple area, for example. But he also knew how to suffer, and eventually offered his life for all of us.

To be sure, Christian charity is not averse to the use of force, per se. But it’s a forcefulness that is also healing, reconciling and unifying of everyone concerned. We can never equate Christian charity with helplessness, because in its worst scenario, its helplessness is only apparent. Its helplessness is actually its victory.

The law of Talion, however, imprisons us in the dynamics of revenge, and at its behest, uses violence as its main weapon. As such, it can only beget more violence and trigger the spiral of revenge. We would never see the end of this vicious cycle until everyone is wiped out. It’s a very destructive and harmful way ofdealing with the dark side of our humanity.

The recourse to this law of Talion can only indicate we

are not truly Christian yet, or that we are at the verge of desperation and gripped by a poisonous bitterness, or that we don’t see things farther than what our basic instincts and senses and our worldly sense of justice would impel us.

A wrong thing can never be made right by another wrong, even if the wrong measure can give some immediate benefit and relief.

We should outgrow this kind of thinking. Rather, we should try our best to continually polish our judicial, legal, police systems, etc., infusing them with the proper spirit of charity and mercy, because without them, the recourse to forcefulness can only be violent and destructive.

Those espousing this kind of justice are usually brash, rude, assertive. They like to make shortcuts at their own convenience.

They like to play gods. They take the law into their own hands, making themselves their own lawgiver, judge and executioner.

And they sometimes justify themselves by saying that the difficult times call for such kind of justice, or that they are just being different, innovative and creative. It’s like saying that they are the messiah of today’s world, debunking the Messiah of the Bible that is now considered by them as obsolete.

Besides, they like to invoke their own version of the doctrine on separation of Church and state, practically preventing the Church and any religion to say anything about the morality of their policies and practices. In fact, they can go to the extent of openly attacking the Church, making use of the human frailties of some Church leaders.

They never run out of excuses and rationalizations, and they never want to be told anything contrary to their own ideas. Even if elected democratically, they quickly become autocratic, detaching themselves from God first, and eventually from everybody else.

The sad thing is that they neither lack sycophants, ever eager to reinforce this kind of thinking so contrary to the Christian idea of charity, justice, mercy and even basic human decency.