Gifted to give

HINTS AND TRACES - Fr. Roy Cimagala (The Freeman) - January 7, 2021 - 12:00am

THAT’S the theme of the celebration of the 5th Centenary of Christianity in our country. It’s taken from the gospel of St. Matthew, chapter 10 verse 8 where we hear Christ telling his apostles: “Freely you have received. Freely give.” It’s actually Christ’s order for his apostles to do all, to give all they have got in their work and mission of apostolate.

We have to be reminded that Christ’s work of human redemption continues till the end of time, and this time he involves us even if does not need help. That’s because being God’s image and likeness in Christ, the mission of Christ is also ours. Just as Christwent all the way to identify himself with us in all our possible situations without committing sin, we are also meant to share what Christ has and does.

In this celebration of the Solemnity of the Epiphany of our Lord, we are somehow reminded of this directive of Christ. The Epiphany tells us that we have received the greatest gift of all, Christ himself, the Son of God who becomes man to save us and who has given us everything we need for the salvation of mankind.

His intention is to save all men, though he respects everyone’s decision to be saved or not. But insofar as he is concerned, he wants all men to be saved. Thus, in the Epiphany, the main message that is highlighted is that the newborn Savior is not only for the Jews who were the chosen people in God’s economy of salvation that has to go through stages, but for all people.

The 3 magi represent the people outside the chosen people. That fact should make us realize that we need to develop a universal outlook in our Christ-given mission to do apostolate. To his apostles, and to us, he said: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.” (Mt 28,19-20)

As long as we identify ourselves closely with Christ, we can have the strength needed to adapt ourselves to everyone and to love them no matter how different or even hostile they are to us. Like Christ we would be willing to suffer, which is a clear manifestation of the strength of divine love.

Remember St. Paul saying, “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” (Rom 15,1) The strong can bear the weak, not vice-versa. And the categories of strength and weakness need not only in the area of the physical, intellectual, social, financial, etc., but more so in the spiritual and moral.

I had a funny verification of this truth recently when one day I saw a hen with its newly-hatched chicks enter the garden where I was holding a seminar. At first, I was pleasantly amused and started to feed them. But when they entered the house and made some droppings there while salvaging some crumbs on the floor, that’s when I started to drive them away.

Initially, I was gentle in driving them away, but since they would not follow, I started to use force. But the hen resisted and even tried to attack me, since in my effort to shoo her away, she was trying to gather her scattered chicks. Anyway, in the end, I gave up and just let them have their way. In time they would go out, and they did.

The lesson I got was that I can understand her ways, but the hen could not understand mine. So, I should just suffer her. The strong can bear the weak, but the weak cannot bear the strong.

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