Sharpening our charity

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Rev. Fr. Roy Cimagala

Candidly Speaking

“I DID not come to call the righteous but sinners.” (Mt 1,13) That’s quite clear. Christ came to save all men. That’s what’s always in his mind. While not neglecting anyone, he however gives some special attention to the sick, the weak, the sinners.

It’s an attitude that we should also have. We cannot think that we can just get contented with loving a few people, or even a lot, but not all. We have to love everyone if we want to be consistent with our Christian identity. We even have to love our enemies, as Christ himself commanded us.

Love has a universal scope. And it’s given without measure. We can never say enough of it. These are truths that we need to chew on slowly and deliberately, for many are the elements in us and around us that would tend to undermine them.

We always have preferences and biases. We have pet peeves. We are always subject to certain conditionings, cultural, social, political, that somehow put limits in our concern for the others.

These are natural things that are unavoidable. But it doesn’t mean that we just get stuck there. We have to go beyond them, or above them. And we can do that because our spiritual nature and the grace of God allow us to go beyond these conditionings.

It would be good to acknowledge as clearly and as strongly as possible these conditionings, but we should also as clearly and as strongly do something so that we can go beyond them. Insofar as God’s grace is concerned, it will never be lacking. What is needed is our generous correspondence to this grace.

Thus, we need to consciously sharpen our charity, using all the means—material, human, spiritual, supernatural—to make it reflect and act out God’s very own love. Remember that Christ himself gave us the new commandment, which serves as the summarizing and perfect commandments, to love our neighbour as he loves us.

And how does he love us? Aside from creating us and endowing us with the best of things—we have been created in his image and likeness and, with his grace, adopted children of his—he has given us his mercy in return to our disobedience and sinfulness, a mercy he acted out by offering his life on the cross.

That’s the supreme act of love, for Christ himself said that “No man has greater love than he who lays down his for his friends.” (Jn 15,13) And that love abides, because that life-offering kind of love is made a sacrament that he himself commanded us to renew till the end of time.

How important therefore that we be theological in our attitude toward this duty. We cannot rely simply on our emotions and other external factors and conditionings. Neither can depend solely on our own will. We have to have the force of grace that made available in the doctrine of our faith and in the sacraments.

We need to be more serious with our duty to love. We have to make it more specific, more direct, more refined, more enduring. It has to be more and more universal.

Yes, we do it in stages, going through the stages of eros, filia and agape, and starting with those close to us and radiating to ever widening circles of people, but we just have to be persevering in it, even if it suffers variation of pace and even if it strays from its proper path from time to time.

What can help is to assume a pro-active attitude toward this duty to love. We should not wait for some inspiration, nor for the others to prove that they deserve our love. We have to love them a priori, and all the way, putting more impulses to make that love always active. We need to reinforce it with an endless supply of theological motives.

Imagine how the world would be if we just put our mind and heart toward this duty to love, which actually summarizes all our duties and responsibilities toward everybody.

We need to overcome that primitive thinking that being serious with charity would make us soft and mushy and all that. The contrary is true. Love would make us strong as it demands us nothing less than willingness to be patient and tolerant, to suffer, to forgive, to reconcile, to step on our own ego, the logic of our flesh and the false values of the world. It’s not afraid of death.

Let’s always sharpen our charity.

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