By Fr. Roy Cimagala
CHRIST already warned us about how our life here on earth is going to be. But he also has assured us that everything would just be ok. We should just stick with him through thick and thin. “In the world, you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world,” he said. (Jn 16,33)
We should put these words into our mind and heart and make them the principle to follow whenever we find ourselves in some difficult situations. For this, we should just learn how to suffer, since suffering is inevitable in our earthly sojourn. We need to develop a certain kind of spiritual toughness that is based on our faith and vital identification with Christ.
With Christ, we can learn how to be tough when we are made to suffer. Our faith, the ultimate source of truth about ourselves, tells us that suffering is due to sin, to the misuse of our freedom, to our disobedience to the will of God who created us to be his image and likeness, to be children of his, sharing in his very own life.
Yet, in spite of that, God our Father, who is all goodness and the very fount of love, did not and does not cease to care for us. And while allowing us to suffer the consequences of our sin and disobedience, he also showed and continues to show us up to now how to tackle suffering in our earthly life.
Toward this end, God did nothing less than to send his son to us. The son became man and took on all our sinfulness, culminating this mission with his death on the cross. In so doing and in resurrecting, Christ converts our suffering due to sin into a way of our redemption.
Thus, if we have to be truly Christian, we need to be tough, really tough. Christ himself was tough, but with the toughness of love that goes all the way of assuming all the sins of men by offering his life on the cross. To be Christ-like we need to be tough. At the same time, to be tough we need to be with Christ. Otherwise, whatever toughness we may show would not be the real toughness expected of us.
This toughness of Christ was described by St. Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians: “For our sake, God made Christ to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (5,21)
St. Peter made the same assertion: “Christ bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.” (1 Pt 2,24) In other words, Christ was not afraid of sin if only to save the sinner out of his love for all of us who are all sinners. He was and continues to be willing to assume our sins, as if they were his own, if only to save us.
He was not squeamish, prudish or puritanical in his attitude toward our sin. In fact, he was kind of pro-active about it, unafraid to get dirty as long as what really matters about us is accomplished and not compromised. That is why he was fraternizing more with the sinners than with the self-righteous.
As he himself said: “I came not to call the righteous, but the sinners to repentance.” (Mk 2,17) And, “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (Jn 3,17)