Up close and personal

By: Fr. Roy Cimagala

THAT gospel episode about Christ healing a big crowd of sick people by laying his hands on each one of them (cfr. Lk 4,40) speaks eloquently of how we ought to deal with everyone we meet in our life. He just did not say, “All of you, be cured.” No. He approached everyone and laid his hands on each one.

Like Christ, we should try to be up close and personal with each of the people we meet, irrespective of who they are, whether they are relatives, friends, colleagues, strangers and even enemies. We have to avoid a casual and generic dealing that does not go deep enough to show and give the real charity that we are commanded to do.

Of course, this will require a lot of effort and sacrifice. We most likely will be tempted to think that Christ is God first of all. He has all the powers. Nothing is impossible with him. We cannot be like him since he is God in the first place. We are only human.

But he is also a man who has assumed our human condition to the point of becoming like sin without committing sin (cfr. 2 Cor 5,21). He has assumed the worst condition that man can get into. Being “the way, the truth and the life,” he is showing us in this particular case how to deal with people in general.

The fact that we are simply human beings with all sorts of limitations and weaknesses should not be an excuse from developing and having a universal concern with a personalized approach in our dealings with people.

Let us remember that we have been made in God’s image and likeness, endowed with powers to enable us, with God’s grace, to be truly like God. In other words, it’s like we have been given a blank check the amount of which we are completely free to write. And what we write on that check depends on how we correspond to God’s grace in our effort to be like God through Christ in the Holy Spirit.

We have to train ourselves to have the very mind and heart of Christ. This, of course, would require us to do some adjustments and even drastic changes in our attitudes and ways. What is needed is that we just try and try, even if our best efforts cannot achieve that ideal. Anyway, we are not really expected to reach that goal with our powers alone. It is Christ, with his grace, that will do it for us. Ours is simply to try.

We, of course, have our own personal ways that can sort of define us—our temperament, personality, our biases and preferences, our culture and lifestyle, our opinions and views, etc.—but we should not be trapped by them.

Our differences and conflicts among ourselves are unavoidable. But they are not meant to be divisive, alienating us from the others. They, in fact, can be the condition to generate the power of God’s love that unites everyone to work on us.

That is why Christ told us to be humble, to have the attitude of wanting to serve and not to be served, to avoid the attitude of entitlement. He told us to deny ourselves and carry the cross. (cfr. Mt 16,24) St. Paul reiterates the same idea by saying that we have to regard everybody else as better than us, looking after the other’s interest rather than simply focusing on our own. (cfr. Phil 2,3-4)

This may be a tremendous, overwhelming endeavor to undertake, but we can always start somewhere. Are we training ourselves, for example, to be more thoughtful and mindful of others? Are we developing a keen interest in the others? Are we learning to let go of our personal preferences to accommodate the way others are?

Email: roycimagala@gmail.com