The integral should give way to the essential

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

THIS was clearly expounded by Christ himself when he said, “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire.” (Mk 9,43)

And he continued, “And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off. It is better for you enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the Kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna.”

In another part of the gospel, the same idea is reiterated. The parables of the hidden treasure and the precious pearl (cfr. Mt 13,44-45) speak of how one should leave behind or sell other possessions if only to get the most important goal in life.

I also remember a Spanish saint who said that after the Spanish civil war, he happened to go into where the final battle was held. And he saw strewn on the ground greatcoats, water bottles, haversacks stuffed with family souvenirs, letters, photographs of loved ones that belonged not to the vanquished but to the victors who must have felt that those items could be thrown away if only to leap over the enemy defenses.

In our life, there will be many occasions when we have to sacrifice certain things if only to keep what is truly essential in us, and that can only be LOVE, which is the essence of God and the essence of our humanity, since we have been created in God’s image and likeness.

Given our wounded human condition here on earth, marked as it is by our natural and infranatural limitations, weaknesses, temptations and sin, we should not be surprised that the likelihood for us to commit some mistakes, even grave mistakes, is high. And we just have to face the consequences without losing what is essential in us.

We may lose our good name, our fortune and possessions, and even our faculties and life itself, because of a mistake or a sin we have committed, or of an offense others may inflict on us, but we should always keep our loving relation with God and everybody else ever intact and strong.

This is not easy, of course, but if we persist in following what Christ taught and lived, always asking for his grace and making the effort to develop the pertinent attitudes and virtues, we can hack it.

And instead of feeling disadvantaged or unlucky in life, we, instead, would feel happy and confident about how our life is going. We know that in this life, there are times when we have to give up certain things if only to gain a much greater thing, the most important goal of our life.

Besides, given the many options in our life, we should try our best in being discriminating in our choices. We should learn to always defend and uphold what is essential in our life even at the expense of doing away with many non-essential things that serve only as some kind of decorations in our life.

In this regard, we should be willing to follow the example of Christ in his love for us out of his obedience to the Father. And that is none other than to be willing to offer our life even for the sins of the others. It may look like a most unfair deal, but that is the best expression of true love!



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