Blending sincerity and discretion

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

IN the gospel, there is a part where Christ addressed some harsh words at some leading Jews who misled others with their false doctrine and their inconsistency between their words and actions—in other words, their hypocrisy. (cfr. Mt 23,27-32)

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth…”

It’s not that we have to show everything to everyone what we have inside our mind and heart. There are times when out of some consideration of charity and delicacy, we choose to keep things hidden. There are also times when, again out of charity for others and to glorify God, we put on things if only to cover our defects and inadequacies.

Thus, sometimes we put on a make-up which, of course, also has to be done in the proper way. It is not meant to deceive, but rather to pursue what we know is the ideal for us. It’s when we overdo it that we start to fall into the area of deception.

We may call this action as discretion, which is definitely an aspect of sincerity. Given our condition here on earth, we simply have to do such things. But to do it properly requires us to have the proper intention, and that is to give glory to God and to offer some good to the others. In other words, God and others should be the beginning and end, the motive and goal of such actions.

Thus, it is important that we review the crucial relationship between God and the others, on the one hand, and our capacity to stick to the truth or to distort it, on the other hand.

To put it bluntly, we can only be in the truth and at the same time discreet when we are with God. Outside of him, let’s wish ourselves sheer luck, because the most likely thing to happen is to slip from the truth. It´s like chasing the wind. For all the excitement and advantages a Godless pursuit of truth gives, everything will just turn out to be vanity.

And so, prayer and a constant concern for the others are a must. That is how we as persons should behave—always in good relation with God and others. Ignoring God and the others means we will just be on our own, an easy prey to our own weaknesses, let alone, the temptations around.

Very vulnerable to the temptation to distort the truth and to fall into the tricks of hypocrisy and pretension are persons endowed and favored with all sorts of talents, intelligence, position, power and who may already have attained a good level of sanctity. That’s because their situation attracts all sorts of temptations.

We have to be more aware of this phenomenon and able to handle it. Even Christ himself was tempted by the devil to deviate from his Father’s will. And the devil employed the subtlest of tricks, even quoting Scripture, to bend Christ to the devil’s will. The devil will always reserve the worst strategy to those who dare to get close to God.

Thus, those of us who try our best to follow God should not be surprised when the most “irresistible” temptations come to us not only from time to time, but even persistently. We somehow should expect this thing to happen, and be ready for it.