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Opinion

Adaptive, flexible but firm, consistent

- Fr. Roy Cimagala - The Freeman

A combination to die for! We just have to work it out. There's always hope, and chances to attain this goal as long as we are also willing to take what it requires.

And for this, there can be nothing more needed than to be vitally united with Christ. For Christ is the epitome of how it is to be adaptive and flexible, while at the same time, firm and consistent.

His adaptability and flexibility is shown in infinite ways. He, being God, emptied himself to become man. And that self-emptying went all the way as to die on the cross for all the sins of men.

Before his death, he allowed himself to be buffeted, spat upon, crowned with thorns, mocked, scourged, pierced. Before his passion, he, being pure love and goodness, allowed himself to be misunderstood and hated.

He put himself completely at the hands of men, God submitting to man, the Creator left at the mercy of his creature. I call this the extreme of adaptability and flexibility.

When he went around preaching, he used parables and other literary devices, cultural and social norms of the time, to make himself understood. Sure, he performed miracles, and but these were made to support all the human means he used to reach out to everyone. Miracles came as subsidiary means.

He was open to all, mixed with everyone, rich or poor, healthy or sick, saintly or sinful. Even those he castigated for their hard-headedness and self-righteousness, he treated with due respect.

But in all these forms of adaptability, flexibility and versatility, he was never lost or confused. He did not stray from his aim and focus. To top it all, he managed to use all situations and circumstances to do what he was supposed to do.

Even that casual meeting with the Samaritan woman at the well, he took advantage to make a conversion. The two distraught disciples on the way to Emmaus after Christ's resurrection became objects of a very exquisite revelation.

All these are indeed impressive, and can, as their downside on us, cast doubt as to whether we can also maintain such qualities, such combination. But, of course, if we have faith, we can always say we can, “possumus,” even if we don't know yet how it is going to happen.

The crucial thing is faith, faith that is strong and expressed in deeds and not simply confined in verbal professions, sentimental feelings, intellectual exercises. It has to be a faith expressed in deeds, and taken to the streets and to the concrete, flesh-and-blood situations of all men and women in all variety of their conditions.

We have to be wary of our tendency to become armchair experts. We have to go out and be willing to get dirty with the things of the world without compromising the spirit of God inside our soul. This is the challenge.

Yes, while it's true that each one of us will always have an area of specialization, we should neither forget that we need to learn how to work in tandem to be able to reach everyone.

These thoughts came to mind as I participated recently in a discussion about how to bring in this soon-to-be concluded Year of Faith the wealth of the Catechism of the Church to all, especially the young and those who are still far from Church life.

It's a pity indeed if all that richness of the Catechism would just go to waste, like pearls cast before swine. But how do we make that wealth reach all men? I suppose the question is like the economic or political question of how can we have equal distribution of wealth in our society?

We just have to continue hoping and praying and working, wracking our brains real hard, doing some studies and consultations, not afraid to go into trial-and-error mode. The important thing is to do something, and not just to remain idle, baffled, confused and lost.

It's said that many Filipinos who are pious and with a lot of devotions often are low and shallow in doctrine. There are also a few who seem to have a lot of doctrine but are rather lacking in piety and devotion. The ideal, of course, as one saint said, is to have the piety of little children while having the doctrine of the theologian.

Nowadays, there are those, especially among the youth, who have neither piety nor theology, neither devotion nor doctrine. We need to reach out to them. This is where adaptability and versatility, firmness and consistency are most needed.

ADAPTABILITY

ALWAYS

CATECHISM OF THE CHURCH

CHRIST

DOCTRINE

EMMAUS

FAITH

FOR CHRIST

MEN

REACH

YEAR OF FAITH

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