By Fr. Roy Cimagala
THIS is the mark of a true Christian. It’s when others see Christ in us. Remember Christ telling his disciples, “Whoever listens to you listens to me, whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.” (Lk 10,16)
We cannot overemphasize the fact that we are truly meant to be another Christ (alter Christus), if not Christ himself (ipse Christus). It’s a truth of faith that we should bear in mind always with the view of acting on it as consistently as possible.
So, we really have to earnestly pursue the effort of living and defending our Christian identity all the time. We should not be afraid to show our Christian identity at all times and in all situations. We should not be Christian by name only, but also by our thoughts, desires and deeds, and in all aspects of our life. We should not be Christian in good times only, but also, and most especially, in bad times. We should not be Christian only in our sacred moments, but also in our mundane activities.
This does not mean that we have to flaunt our Christian identity or to exude some kind of a triumphalistic aura. In fact, we have to be most natural and discreet about it. But it should not be hidden because of fear or shame.
Remember Christ saying: “Everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father in heaven.” (Mt 10,32-33)
That Christ is the Son of God who became man to redeem us means that God in Christ through the Holy Spirit identifies himself with each one of us at all times. This is the basis for keeping a consistency in our Christian identity.
This is what our Catechism teaches us clearly: “Christ enables us to live in him all that he himself lived, and he lives it in us. ‘By his Incarnation, he, the Son of God, has in a certain way united himself with each man.” (Catechism 521)
We have to understand that everything in our life can only have its proper meaning and purpose when referred to Christ. Our mundane activities and concerns can only acquire their ultimate meaning and divine value when related to Christ. Even our weaknesses, errors, failures and sins can only be taken care of properly when referred to Christ.
We need to spread this truth of our faith, so crucial in our life, as widely as possible. Let’s listen to St. Paul in this regard: “Preach the word. Be prepared in season and out of season. Reprove, rebuke, and encourage with every form of patient instruction. For the time will come when men will not tolerate sound doctrine, but with itching ears they will gather around themselves teachers to suit their own desires.” (2 Tim 4,2-3)
We have to know how to be adaptive to the different and changing conditions of our life without losing our Christian identity and consistency. The secret, of course, is to become truly like Christ. He is the master of adaptation, flexibility, versality and consistency.
This was shown, first of all, by the fact that out of sheer love for us, in spite of our stupidities, he became man to recover us from our state of alienation from God. Yes, out of this unwavering love, he did everything, including offering his own life, to redeem us, so that he and us can truly be one, as we should be.