Tolerating but not condoning
HINTS AND TRACES - Fr. Roy Cimagala (The Freeman) - February 22, 2020 - 12:00am

To be realistic about the concrete conditions of our life here on earth, we need to know how to be tolerant of certain unavoidable evils without condoning them. The distinction may be difficult to make, we have to learn it if we want to survive the drama of life. This is a basic skill we all have to acquire, given the way we and the world are.

We cannot deny that in life, we will always be hounded by evil in all its forms. We also have our own weaknesses to contend with.

Then we have to cope with the many temptations and structures of sin. This is too obvious and conspicuous to merit further elaboration. Just think of the network of corruption, deception, pornography around!

Worst of all, we have the devil to grapple with. And he is very good in the art of conspiracy, putting snares and traps at every move we make. It’s really important we know how to deal with this without compromising what’s truly essential in our life.

We have to learn to be tough and ready to get dirty without surrendering the essential. And we shouldn’t lose the hope of overcoming evil, fighting until the end of our life, if needed.

To be tolerating is to assume an attitude of allowing some evil or something that we don’t like, to exist or to occur without interference from our part, at least in the meantime.

It’s to suffer that evil or negative element if only to give more attention to something of higher value. This may involve a certain material, not formal, cooperation in evil.

It should be a function of a divinely-inspired sense of practicality, reflecting the lesson we can learn from the parable of the unjust steward. (cfr. Lk 16,1-13) and from the example of Christ himself who fraternized with the sinners more than with the self-righteous persons.

It, of course, does not mean that we do nothing about these negative elements, nor be indifferent to them, turning a blind eye toward them. Much less, does it mean that we approve these bad elements, regarding them as somehow good and acceptable, giving false excuses for them. That would already be condoning evil.

In this regard, we have to remember that if we cannot help it, we should be willing to lose whatever is necessary to lose if only to save the essential, as articulated by Christ when he said:

“If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” (Mt 5,29-30)

To be sure, for us to be able to distinguish between when to be properly tolerant of certain evils and when we would already be falling into condoning them, we would need God’s grace and our vital union with Christ, no less. The spiritual and supernatural means should always be given priority over the human means.

On our part, we should study well the moral doctrine of our Christian faith, especially on the principles regarding material cooperation in evil, and to make proper consultations with the right people. It would be helpful if we can have regular spiritual direction where we can air out our experiences in this matter.

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