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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, April 15, 2016
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Rock and Refuge
with Fr. Roy Cimagala
OPINIONS

Rock & Refuge

Let's be radical

It's unfortunate that the word “radical” or “radicalized” has assumed an almost exclusively negative connotation due to the years of terrorism erupting these days in many places all over the world. But it should not be so. It's quite unfair that bad elements have practically hijacked that word for themselves when it, in fact, has a very beautiful, not to mention, significant meaning.

To be radical means to go to the roots or to the foundations of things. It comes from the Latin word “radix” which precisely means root. And what good could anything be or have if it has no roots?

Remember that parable in the gospel of St. Matthew about the sower and the seed? “Some seeds fell on the rocky places where they did not much soil. And immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched.

And because they had no root, they withered away.” (13,5-6)

Sad to say, nowadays we can see many people who can be aptly described as rootless. They have no convictions other than their transitory passions at a given moment. Some hardly have any knowledge of their history and culture that should give some sense of stability and direction in their thoughts and behavior. They are as flippant and as fleeting as today's fads and fashions.

St. Jude would describe these people in his epistle in these words: “These are…fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted…” (1,12)

We need to be men and women with depth, with clear foundations and good, strong and healthy roots. That's simply because the roots somehow determine the kind of fruits a tree bears. If the roots are good and properly planted on good ground, the fruits will also be good and healthy.

We need to exert some special, deliberate effort to take care of our roots, because since roots are normally out of sight, they are also usually taken for granted. And in our life, we have to make sure that our roots are properly planted on good ground. That's because it is inhuman to be without roots, or to plant our roots anywhere.

This brings us to what St. Paul once said in his Letter to the Colossians. “Plant your roots in Christ,” he said, “and let him be the foundation for your life, Be strong in your faith, just as you were taught. And be grateful.” (2,7)

These words practically tell us to be radical in Christ. We need to be radicalized in our Christian life, and avoid being Christian in name only. We should not be afraid to pursue this path of radicalization since it has nothing to do with violence, terrorism, fundamentalism, rigidity, self-righteousness and the like.

On the contrary, to be a Christian radical or a radicalized Christian is to be full of patience, compassion, mercy, understanding. To be a Christian radical or a radicalized Christian is to have the fullness of charity grounded always on the truth.

It may involve a certain violence, but it is the violence of love as articulated in the gospel of St. Matthew: “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.” (11,12)

This Christian violence or forcefulness is shown in Christ himself who was not afraid to offer his life on the cross out of sheer love for us. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends.” (Jn 15,13)

It's the violence and forcefulness of love that can “bear all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Cor 13,7).

It is the violence and forcefulness of many saints who were willing to embrace martyrdom out of their great faith and love for God and for souls. It is the violence and forcefulness involved in following the commandments of God to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind,” (Mt 22,37) and “to love one another as I have loved you.” (Jn 13,34)

This violence and forcefulness of a Christian radical actually makes us tough and fearless of anything just as St. Paul said in his Letter to the Romans: “For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord.” (8,38-39)

Yes, let's be radical!*

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