Being realistic in the world

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

“BE shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.” (Mt 10,16) What a combination of qualities Christ is telling us! Hard and even impossible as it may seem, we just have to try our best to achieve such condition, obviously with God’s grace, because as Christ himself warned us, in this world we would be like sheep in the midst of wolves. We just have to be clever without compromising our human and Christian integrity.

Is it possible? Is it achievable? We can always ask these questions, but in the end, we just have to reconcile ourselves with what Christ is telling us, since he himself will do it for us and with us. All we have to do is try our best to be like him who precisely epitomizes this most intriguing blend of shrewdness and simplicity.

He could read men’s mind and heart. He knew where they were coming from and where they were going to. He many times caught the supposedly leading men of his time in their fallacies and defective arguments. He knew how to defend himself. But in the end, when the “hour” came for him to offer his life for us, he went to it, obeying the Father’s will and out of pure love for us.

We should try our best to be like him. We should be simple without being naïve. We should be shrewd and clever without any trace of malice nor of any desire for pure self-interest.

Definitely this is a combination that will be very challenging for us to develop. But we can always try, like taking one step at a time in pursuing this goal. For this, we may have to spend some time studying on how to develop it, coming out with some plans and resolutions along the way.

Truth is, 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.

We have to learn how to counter this deadly trend without compromising charity and the truth. And the only way to do that is precisely to follow Christ’s indication that we be both clever like serpents and simple as doves.