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Restraint and hope

When Christ explained to his disciples the meaning of the parable about the wheat and the weeds (cfr. Mt 13,24-43), he practically told them to practice restraint in their reactions to all forms of evil in this world while at the same time developing the virtue of hope that would enable them to move on while prudently waiting for the God-appointed time when things can be properly sorted out.

To practice both restraint and hope is indeed a big challenge for all of us, since, human as we are, we always tend to act spontaneously or instinctively to things that take place in our life here on earth, with hardly any consideration of the global picture provided by our Christian faith in which things in general ought to be seen.

We have to learn how to be prudent, knowing how to practice both restraint and decisiveness in our judgments, reactions and actuation. We should not simply be restrained and moderate if only to play safe. Neither should we be just bold and decisive to make our point clear.

Depending on the circumstances of a given situation, a truly prudent man would know how to restrain himself and how to be decisive. If facts are clear and the pieces of evidence are strong, then he would not hesitate to make his views clear and to take the appropriate action.

Otherwise, he would prefer to keep quiet and discreet, or at the most would just keep some tentative views and opinions which are usually kept to himself until things become clear in a way that would warrant a clear-cut judgment and action.

This kind of prudence can only come about as a result of one’s identification with Christ who would inspire him to always judge, react and act with charity. Yes, if prudence has to be true prudence, it always has to be animated by charity, the one that was shown and commanded by Christ to us.

But we should not forget that no matter much we try to be prudent and restrained in reactions to things, we can never completely avoid suffering, and suffering unjustly at that.

This unjust suffering is becoming common as the world is getting more and more complicated. We can suffer unjustly because of some rash judgments people can make, or because of exaggerated attachments to political opinions and social trends, or because of racial and even mere regional discrimination.

We can suffer unjustly because of family problems that we cannot avoid and we are forced to resolve, like lingering and expensive sicknesses, drug addiction on the part of some family members, marital crises of relatives, bankruptcy, etc.

We can suffer unjustly out of sheer malice of others, perhaps driven by envy, greed, lust for power, etc. This is not to mention the growing instances of suffering due to natural calamities and disasters for which we cannot pin down anybody as responsible as well as those errors for which we are truly guilty.

In all this, we have to learn to suffer with Christ and foster the virtue of hope that in the end, everything will be made right. And we can be sure that we are having hope when in spite of all the evils we have to suffer in this life, we can still manage to be at peace and even to find meaning and joy in our suffering. That’s when we can say that we becoming more and more like Christ as we ought to be!*

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January 2022
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