Charity is non-negotiable

cimagala-thumbWHATEVER may be our differences and conflicts, even in the most serious of cases, charity should never be sacrificed. We are meant to love one another. This is a Christian principle that is spot on. This has basis on what Christ himself said and did.

“Love one another as I have loved you,” he commanded his disciples. (Jn 13,34) And we know that his love for us went all the way to giving up his life for us on the cross.

In another instance, he also said to love even our enemies. “Love your enemies,” he said, “bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” (Mt 5,44)

 ADVERTISEMENT 

Our enemies can be those who differ with us in our political opinions, those who may have offended us in thoughts, words and deeds, those who are foul-mouthed and make baseless and sweeping accusations against us, etc. They can be those who are opposed with us in terms of beliefs, ideologies, lifestyles, etc.

Yes, all these we have to love if we are to follow Christ.  It’s not easy, of course, if we have to rely only on our human powers and resources. But with God’s grace, neither is it hard. Nothing is impossible if we correspond properly to the grace that God himself gives us abundantly.

We have to learn how to live this divine precept even as we sort out our differences and conflicts, and pursue the requirements of justice which is also needed. Charity does not make justice obsolete, nor justice make charity out of place. But between the two, charity has a more universal scope and a deeper reach.

And that’s simply because charity involves the very being of a person who has been created in the image and likeness of God. It involves his very core, his heart and ultimate identity as a creature and a child of God. It makes us see God in everyone, irrespective of our differences and conflicts.

Justice, on the other hand, involves only a person’s moral actions, starting with his thoughts, then his words and deeds. It appraises a person’s use of his freedom that can be right or wrong, and for which he can be guilty or not in varying degrees.

It does not mean that justice is not important. A man’s moral actions can make or unmake him. But as to the ultimate judgment as to how his moral actions affect his person, only God can do that.

We obviously cannot do that since in spite of the many data we may be able to gather with respect to a given case, we still do not know everything as to warrant a sound judgment on one’s person.  There are just too many factors and conditionings for us to account for to enable us to make a sound judgment of one’s person.

Describing the complexity involved in knowing a person, St. Augustine once said: “Man is a great deep, Lord. You number his very hairs and they are not lost in your sight. But the hairs of his head are easier to number than his affections and the movements of his heart.”

We have to learn how to be charitable always even amid our differences and conflicts. This means that we have to learn to see Christ in everyone, including those with whom we may have serious differences. 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, political or ideological way. While these aspects are always to be considered, we should not be trapped by them. Rather we have to transcend them.

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?

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? (By Fr. Roy Cimagala)



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *