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Bacolod City, Philippines Thursday, May 16, 2019
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Rock and Refuge
with Fr. Roy Cimagala
OPINIONS

Love above all

Rock & Refuge

Of course, after the elections we can expect feelings of highs and lows among us. The winners and their followers understandably are joyful. And just as understandably also, the losers and their followers are in some of kind of mourning mode. Let’s just leave it at that.

But let’s always remember that we are all brothers and sisters, children of God. Irrespective of our differences and conflicts, mistakes and offenses, we are meant to love each other always. Let’s avoid becoming gloating winners and sore losers, marked with anger and hatred, depression, resentment, thoughts of revenge and the like. These actuations are actually inhuman, let alone, unchristian.

If we truly are Christians, we would know how to love one another not only in spite of, but also because of our differences and conflicts. That’s how Christ treats all of us. He came to love everyone, including those who were against him, those who crucified him. He at least offered them mercy.

We have to learn from the example of Christ. He is the “way, the truth and the life” for us. He knows what is to be man. He knows our strength and weaknesses, and he knows how to handle them. He is showing us how to deal with our human condition here on earth, weakened as it is by our sin.

And his example is marked with detachment not only from his views, from his teachings, but also from his life. Yes, he was clear and precise about what is right and wrong, what is good and evil. He was very concerned about the cause of justice and the rule of law. But in the end it is mercy, the summit of charity, that prevails.

We have to understand that Christ came to save all of us, and not just a few, the supposedly good ones. Precisely, he paid more special attention to the ‘lost sheep.’ He went to the extent of teaching us that we love even our enemies, and he acted out that teaching by accepting death on the cross. Our relation with one another should reflect this kind of attitude.

As St. Paul would put it in his Letter to the Romans, “Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fullness of the law.” (13,10) This does not mean that justice is done away with. Love always upholds and perfects justice.

It is just that a love-inspired justice is not one where the mistake of one party is corrected by another mistake by way of a purely punitive kind of justice. Such kind of justice is not real justice, the justice that is meant for us, given our dignity as children of God.

A love-inspired justice also has its punitive aspect, but of the kind that heals a person of his defect, corrects his mistake and restores his real dignity as a child of God. It’s not just punishing a guilty person for the sake of punishing alone.

This love-inspired justice, I am afraid, is not yet known, much less, lived by a great majority of the people today nor reflected in our legal and judicial systems. It is the kind of justice that may appear at first sight as unfair to the innocent party, since he appears to suffer more than the guilty party.

But this is the example of Christ. This is the kind of justice Christ is showing us to follow and live. This is how he resolved the injustice we committed against God. He was made to suffer and did not complain. He just bore everything, showing us how precious we are to him.

We need to do some drastic adjustments in our understanding of justice and charity. It will obviously require the grace of God, our identification with Christ. It will involve a lot of effort, willingness to suffer, detachment from the things of this world and even of our life, magnanimity and a sporting spirit.*

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