Not to condemn but to save

By: Fr. Roy Cimagala

ST. JOHN in his gospel made it clear what God’s attitude is toward us. “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,” he said, “but that the world might be saved through him.” (3,17)

That divine attitude should also be ours toward one another. That’s why Christ, our redeemer who accomplished his mission of redeeming us more by offering forgiveness rather than by just preaching about what is right and wrong, gave us a new commandment that summarizes and perfects all the previous commandments God has given us.

“Love one another as I have loved you,” (Jn 13,34)  he said, literally telling us that we should be more forgiving as he was and is, rather than merely insisting on what is right.

Reiterating this point, he said that it is with this attitude that we can truly be considered as Christ’s disciples. (cfr. Jn 13,35) In other words, unless we are forgiving and merciful as Christ is to all of us, we would not be truly his disciples if we insist simply on being right. Such an attitude would be considered self-righteous because that is not the righteousness taught, shown and commanded by Christ to us.

That is also why Christ told us clearly that we have to love our enemies. “Do good to those who hate you,” he said, “bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.” (Lk 6,27-29)

We need to examine ourselves if we truly have this attitude of Christ, if we truly follow what he taught us and what he himself did. We have to moderate our reactions if not restrain ourselves from our tendency to immediately fight back, seek revenge, complain and accuse every time we feel offended.

This does not mean that we should not be interested in justice and in affirming and defending what is right from wrong. But in all these efforts, we should not compromise the charity that Christ is commanding us to live. Like Christ, we have to be magnanimous, patient, willing to suffer.

We have to be willing to offer forgiveness and mercy. Like Christ, we have to be willing to bear the wrongs of the others, and to work for their conversion, instead of focusing as our ultimate goal the righting of what is wrong. We can never have perfect justice here on earth. That justice can only be given by God himself.

We have to realize that with our human condition, we cannot totally avoid what is wrong, evil and sinful in this life. That’s a given that we should not waste time debating about anymore. We just have to follow the example and commandment of Christ when dealing with this unavoidable fact of life.

When we have to fight for justice and for what is right, let it be that we do it with magnanimity and humility, and never as an expression of self-righteousness. As one saint once said, let us simply drown evil with an abundance of good, even if in the process, we are made to suffer, and to suffer unjustly.

Let’s never forget that as many people have already affirmed, our life here on earth and the world itself can be very unfair. Let’s not make a big issue out of this reality. Fairness and justice can only be perfectly achieved when we follow the example of Christ.

Obviously, training in the virtues of charity, mercy, magnanimity, patience, humility, etc. is a must and should be carried out right at the bosom of each family. It has to be shown that it is in these virtues where we can have our true liberation, our salvation, our fulfillment.