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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, February 6, 2018
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Rock and Refuge
with Fr. Roy Cimagala

Rock & Refuge

A test of charity

Christ himself has commanded us that we have to love our neighbor, that is, everyone, as he himself has loved us. He even went to the extent to telling us that we have to love our enemies.

This commandment, of course, can be obeyed in many ways. But one good way to see if our love is as Christ has commanded us is to see that we make ourselves as lovable as possible to everybody even as we try our best to love all, including the most unlovable.

This is how Christ has loved us. For him to be lovable to us, he being the son of God became man and adapted himself to us all the way to making himself like sin without committing sin if only to save us.

For this, he emptied himself just to be close to us and even to identify himself with us. And as a consequence, he adapted himself to our ways, teaching the great mysteries of our faith, for example, in easy-to-understand parables. He also had to pay taxes and followed the local customs and practices. He was like anybody else, except committing sin.

Christ personified what St. Paul once described how we should be — that we be all things to all men for the sake of human redemption. That was how Christ made himself lovable to everyone, even if there were some who could not love him.

But even with these people — the Pharisees and the scribes — he in the end asked his Father for their forgiveness, finding some excuses for them: “For they know not what they are doing.”

Christ's love was and continues to be universal in scope. And it involved everything in his power — from showing basic affection and compassion to offering forgiveness.

It was a love that was and continues to be gratuitously given. And that is also the love that he expects us to have since we are patterned after him. We are meant to be “alter Christus,” another Christ. “Without cost you have received, without cost you have to give.” (Mt 10,8)

We have to be ready to have this kind of love in our life. We need to develop it, of course. To be sure, it would need God's grace, first of all, but we also have to do our part in cultivating the proper attitudes, skills and virtues.

That is why we have to pray and with humility enliven our faith, hope and charity so that more than obtaining that grace, we would know how to correspond to that grace that God actually gives us in abundance and gratuitously. In this, he is not sparing.

While we cannot deny that we are subject to all kinds of conditionings that would lead us to have preferences and biases, likes and dislikes, we have to learn how to go beyond those conditionings, not allowing ourselves to be trapped by them.

For this, we need God's grace and our all-out effort of disciplining, purifying and orienting our human powers—intelligence, will, emotions, memory, etc.—toward God, their proper source and ultimate object.

Everyday, actually, offers us a lot of opportunities to develop this Christian love by making ourselves as lovable as possible to everybody, and by loving every one, including our enemies and the unlovable.

We have to understand that every event and situation in our life, no matter how they are considered according to our human and natural standards, should be an occasion to love God by loving everybody!*

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