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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, August 10, 2020
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Rock and Refuge
with Fr. Roy Cimagala

When we find someone unlikeable

Rock & Refuge

This is an unavoidable reality in our life. There will always be people whom we find hard if not impossible to like, let alone, love, for a number of reasons. Their weaknesses and defects, let alone, their mistakes and offenses, can seem to us to be unbearable, if not unforgivable. They can even appear to us as if they are glorying in these conditions even as we sink in morbid anguish.

To be sure, the problem is not so much with them as it is with us. That predicament of ours can only mean that we are not yet like Christ who even went to the extent of telling us to love our enemies, and to bear all the sins of men by going through his passion and death on the cross.

It can mean that we lack patience, understanding and compassion. It can also mean that we lack the courage not only to bear what we consider to be the burdens of others but also to help them correct themselves, if that possibility is still practicable.

It can also mean that we really have to humble ourselves, so as to fight that pride and conceit that keeps us from being resilient and adaptable to everyone as he is, warts and all, and so we can be as St. Paul once said, “all things to all men.” (1 Cor 9,22) This is actually the ideal meant for us, if we have to follow Christ.

When we find ourselves in that kind of situation where we find someone hard to like and to love, we are actually being challenged and invited to make another step forward in our spiritual life, in our effort to be like Christ who, after all, is the model we have to follow.

We have to overcome the thought that we are meant simply to be ourselves. Let’s be careful when we start rationalizing by saying that “this is just the way I am” or that “I am just being true to myself.” To be true to oneself actually means to be “another Christ.” We have to be clear about this fundamental truth.

Yes, we are meant to be ‘another Christ’, an ideal that while definitely requiring God’s grace in the first place, would also demand our utmost cooperation. In this life we are always being called to continually grow in our spiritual life, and these situations of finding someone unlikeable and unlovable are definitely the occasions to do so.

That’s why we can never overemphasize the need to pray, to have recourse to the sacraments, to make sacrifices, to wage a lifelong ascetical struggle, developing virtues and resisting temptations and sins.

To be sure, that effort to be like Christ who tells us to love everyone, including our enemies, would truly enrich our personality and character. It certainly would make us more likeable, amiable and lovable to others who would somehow notice that we seem not to have enemies and that we like and love everyone as we continue to be friendly to everyone, regardless.

It would also go a long way in creating an atmosphere of unity among ourselves, where the social principles of the common good, solidarity and subsidiarity would be better lived.

So, instead of being trapped in anguish when we meet someone hard to like or to love, we should rather welcome that occasion. It’s a golden opportunity to become a better person and to help others to be better persons as well. Together we would be building up a better society, which we should try to aim at always.

The world today is in great need of becoming a better world where love, friendship, understanding, compassion reign amid our unavoidable differences and conflicts. Let us do our part, starting in the place where we are at the moment and with the people with whom we interact everyday.*

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