By Fr. Roy Cimagala
“I GAVE them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.” (Jn 17,14) These words are part of the priestly prayer Christ said just before his arrest that led to his passion, death and resurrection.
They remind us that it is God, whose word Christ faithfully transmitted to us, who defines reality. It’s neither us nor the world that define reality. Apart from God, the only thing we can accomplish is to distort reality. Apart from God, we would be building up a bubble that sooner or later would just burst.
That is why, Christ asked the Father to “consecrate them in the truth,” since “your word is truth.” (Jn 17,17) May we always be aware of where we can find the truth and how we can go along with the objective reality that is proper to us.
At the same time, Christ already warned us that because the world has its own ways that do not concur with God’s word, that is, with the truth, those of us who try to follow God’s word and who avoid worldly ways, would meet misunderstanding if not persecution.
In this, we should be ready. We cannot underestimate the pressure and the subtle, deceptive tricks that the world would exert on the followers of God. Nowadays, the mixture of good and evil is such that we are often left confused.
That is why we should just try our best to follow what Christ once said. “Be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.” (Mt 10,16) It’s indeed a most intriguing piece of advice, but we just have to try it out.
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.
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.
Definitely, in our effort to apply this piece of advice in our life, we would encounter situations that can dirty us. We cannot avoid having to deal with some forms of evil. It is therefore important that we are clear about the distinction between a morally tolerable cooperation in evil and the immoral and sinful one.
But as long as we stick with Christ as tightly as possible, we know that we can survive, and that as St. Paul once said, with Christ everything will work out for the good! (cfr. Rom 8,28)