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Bacolod City, Philippines Thursday, October 20, 2016
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Rock and Refuge
with Fr. Roy Cimagala

Rock & Refuge

Simple, shrewd
but not complicated

Let's not be daunted by this undeniably difficult combination of qualities we all ought to have. There's God's grace to help us. As long as we also do our part, things would just jell.

The fact is that Christ tells it to us very clearly. “Look, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves.” (Mt 10,16)

Indeed, we cannot deny that we are in an increasingly complicated world. There are now many smart people around, quick to rationalize their actions. This is especially true among our political leaders, who in their quest for power, will do everything — mostly unfair means and reasonings — to gain or keep that power.

But it would be a disaster to us if we respond to this complicated mess with our own version of convoluted self-justifications. This happens when we start thinking, judging, reasoning and concluding without God or, worse, when we think God's clear commandments are already obsolete, irrelevant, a drag to our interests, etc.

Sad to say, there are now many people who think that God's clear laws are out of touch with reality, and so they craft their own ideologies that are mainly based on what is practical, convenient, popular, or what can gain them power, etc.

In history, we have seen many cases like this. There was barbarianism, massive persecution of Christians or people not in agreement with the current administration. There was Nazism, Fascism, Communism and some questionable forms of socialism and capitalism, and now, an unhinged Liberalism.

What could be worse were those instances when religion was used to precisely go against God's clear commandments. Some people have gone to the extent of using their religion to justify divorce, abortion, ethnic cleansing, terrorism, etc.

Yes, we have to deal with the complicated and complex situations as they come. That's what Christ warned us about: “I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.” But we have to remain simple just the same.

Simplicity is not naivete. It is not an excuse to escape from the world and to isolate oneself. It just means we have to know how to stick by God's laws no matter how difficult a situation may be. It's a matter of conviction that knows how to reinvent itself without compromising its essence as the need arises. It knows how to be flexible, adaptable and versatile. This is precisely the shrewdness of simplicity.

We get complicated when we detach ourselves from God and would just depend on our own brilliant ideas. In this case, we become very vulnerable to fall into deceit and duplicity, to having unfair ulterior motives, as we get more concerned with our own interests than with the common good. We get complicated when we are afraid to suffer for truth, justice, mercy, in short, for love of God and others.

Being complicated springs from self-righteousness as well as reinforces it. It can be so bad as to go to the extent of making oneself his own god, creating one's own reality, his own law that defines what is good and bad, right and wrong.

Being complicated only shows one does not have faith or, at least, hasa weak or distorted faith. That's why he considers the word of God as ineffective to tackle the challenges of life.

But this is contradicted by what the Letter to the Hebrews tells us about the word of God: “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividingsoul and spirit, joints and marrow. It judges the thoughts andattitudes of the heart.” (4,12)

We need to understand that God's words, as revealed fully by Christand taught authoritatively now by the Church, can capture everythingthat any human situation may present us and can lead us to understandand resolve things as Christ himself would understand and resolve them.

Of course, toward this end, we need to be ready to suffer and even todie as shown by Christ himself. That suffering and death can never be taken as a defeat or loss, because if it is suffering and death in Christ, the victory of the resurrection is assured to us. So, we need a training in suffering by developing a spirit of sacrifice and self-denial all throughout our life.

In all this, we should try to maintain a happy and hopeful disposition, sporty in attitude, knowing how to look for Christ always, so we don't get lost in the complicated ways of the world today.*

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