Saving the salvageable
It's an art we have to learn. Especially these days when what is good can be flooded by an ocean of evil things, we have to know how to identify that good and try our best to save it and turn it into an agent to convert evil to good or at least to derive some good from evil.
Christ himself is the perfect model for this. First, being God he became man and assumed our sinfulness without committing sin if only to save us. And he did this by converting the consequences of sin — our pains and difficulties and death itself — into the very means of our salvation.
He went to the extent of offering his life on the cross for us and thus removing the sting of death with his resurrection. We can say that he was game to this game plan, so to speak.
We should try to have the same attitude toward our life and the many complicated situations we can find ourselves in. This is what is actually proper to us. Instead of simply being dominated by evil, let's try to find some good in any predicament we have, and turn it into some kind of reagent to change any bad situation into something that is morally acceptable.
Christ always looked for what is salvageable in a situation that is filled with hopelessness. This was dramatized for example when he talked about the parable of the dishonest steward. (cfr. Lk 16,1-13)
A steward was about to be dismissed from work, and since he was afraid he could not find work anymore after being fired, he curried favour with his master's debtors by remitting parts of their debts.
For what this steward did, Christ praised him, not because of his dishonesty that clearly is wrong, but because of his astuteness even if such cleverness was at the immediate service of the steward's dishonesty.
Such astuteness has the potential of being used for a good cause, and so it deserves to be praised. That Christ did not approve the dishonesty of the steward can be seen when later on in that gospel episode, he clearly said that “no servant can serve two masters.” (cfr Lk 16,13)
This attitude was also highlighted when then Pope Benedict XIII said that the use of condoms may be justified in some special circumstances. In explaining the papal statement, the then papal spokesman said:
“The Pope considered an exceptional situation in which the exercise of sexuality represents a real risk to the lives of others. In this case, the Pope does not morally justify the exercise of disordered sexuality, but believes that the use of condoms to reduce the risk of infection is a 'first step on the road to a more human sexuality', rather than not to use it and risking the lives of others."
We need to be astute and clever without losing our spiritual and moral bearing in dealing with the many issues and predicaments in our life. That is what Christ also said: “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Mt 10,16)
And so we need to be tough and game in this life, not easily affected and scandalized by the dirt and the evils that are unavoidable in this life. We have to know how to be patient and optimistic, no matter how dark and seemingly hopeless a particular situation may look to us.
We have to sharpen our skill of discerning the moral qualities of the different situations we can find ourselves in and that also of making the right judgments. In this we have to help one another, always praying, reflecting and consulting when necessary.
But we just have to learn how to save the salvageable and use it for a good purpose or, at least, to start on the road toward reconciliation with God and others.*
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