By Fr. Roy Cimagala
GIVEN the social character of our life, we have to make sure that we are always contributing to the common good. Whatever we do, even if done alone, should have that motive always in mind. Even if we are not aware of the social character of our life, the truth is we always affect one another in some way.
Even our most private and intimate thoughts somehow would have some effects on the life of the others. That’s because as persons we, by definition, are meant to enter into relation with others. The ideal condition is for us to be aware that we always have relation with God first, and then with everybody and everything else. And it’s our duty to always maintain a good relation with God and with others.
We should therefore make sure that we are always doing good, starting with our thoughts and desires all the way to our most public actuations. We need to be extra conscious of this truth which we often take it for granted, and the appropriate means should be used to keep that ideal continually pursued.
We are reminded of this truth about ourselves in that gospel episode where Christ told his disciples that while sin and scandal are unavoidable in this life, we should try our best to be guarded against those possibilities. (cfr. Lk 17,1-6) He had harsh words for those who cause others to sin.
“Things that cause sin will inevitably occur,” he said, “but woe to the one through whom they occur. It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.” (Lk 17,1-2)
These words of Christ also tell us that we should be properly guarded against the unavoidable sins and other forms of evil that will always come our way. Yes, while we should try to avoid scandalizing others, we should also be tough enough not to be scandalized when confronted with evil.
We have to be most careful about the danger of scandal, both in its active and passive aspects, since this danger is now rampant. In fact, we can say that the danger has become part of the world culture, promoted not only by individuals, but also by big and powerful institutions like the media, and in the fields of politics, business, entertainment, sports, etc.
We should rather put our mind in doing a lot of good always, giving good example to the others, edifying them with our words and deeds. This duty, therefore, should be carried out deliberately. It should somehow be planned and aimed at. It should not just be something incidental or something optional. Of course, this duty should not be done out of pride or vanity, but out of obedience to the will of God who wants to save all men. (cfr. 1 Tim 2,4)
Everyday, we have to come out with a concrete plan to fulfill this duty of giving good example to others. It may just be as little as smiling, or reacting calmly when some disappointment comes our way, or saying something nice about somebody whose faults and mistakes are obvious, or showing compassion to those in difficulty and offering mercy to those who may have done us wrong, etc.
Part of our sense of accountability at the end of the day should be to present to God in our examination of conscience the concrete things we have done to give good example to others.