Pursuing truth in charity

By: Fr. Roy Cimagala

In our pursuit for the truth, as when we do our best to update, refine or polish what we already know about our faith and what are already defined as truths and doctrine of faith, we have to avoid getting so trapped and imprisoned by their exclusive nature that we sacrifice charity, especially its finer if more difficult and challenging points.

This danger can take place when the more we seem to know about our faith, the less charitable we become, since such growing superiority in our knowledge of the faith would make us more judgmental of others, more detached from them, and less able to understand and deal with those who do not enjoy the same privilege or status that we do.

This happened in the case of the Pharisees and the scribes in the times of Christ. These people so prided themselves to be in possession of what is true about faith and religion that they looked down on those who were not like them. They even looked down on Christ and did everything to find fault in him until they managed to bring Christ to his crucifixion.

We have to realize that if truth is really truth, it will always foster charity, not hinder or undermine it. Truth’s exclusive character does not displace the inclusivity of charity. Rather it enhances charity’s inclusive character.

We have to be wary of the seemingly competing if not contradicting tendency between truth and charity that many of us believe with respect to the truth-and-charity relation. If truth sacrifices charity, then it would not really be truth. And vice-versa. If charity sacrifices truth, it would not really be charity. We have a distortion of both, a falsification of both.

We have to be clear about a certain point that many of us think about the mutual relationship between truth and charity. Many of us think that for truth to be charitable, it has to give up on something. And also vice-versa. For charity to be in the truth, it has to somehow sacrifice some of its requirements.

Nothing should be given up or sacrificed from either side of truth and charity, if both really are what they are. Of course, given our wounded, limited and sinful human condition, things may look like we are giving up or sacrificing something for truth to blend with charity, and for charity to blend with truth. But that is a subjective appreciation of things that we need to overcome and rectify.

Can we do it? Of course, we can, but always with the grace of God and never without the involvement of suffering and pain. The cross of Christ will somehow be in the middle of all this.

The problem is that many of us have the implicit attitude that God’s grace can be an optional thing in this issue, and that the cross, as much as possible, can and should be avoided. We can think that if we can do away with grace and the cross to be both in the truth and charity, then it would just be fine.

But the truth is that we can never do away with grace and the cross in pursuing the truth in charity and charity in the truth. Let us always remember that Christ himself did not stop simply in preaching what is true and not true with respect to faith, what is right and not right with respect to morals. Man’s salvation cannot be attained with preaching alone.

Christ had to offer his life on the cross. And for that, he had to commend his spirit to his Father. “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit,” he said. (Lk 23,46) These words express Christ’s availment of the grace that he has in common possession with the Father and the Holy Spirit, if we can describe it that way.

Email: roycimagala@gmail.com