'We need scolding' By Fr. Roy Cimagala (Cebu City)

09/30/2010 - AMONG the gospel episodes that have left a great impact on me, and I’m sure, on many others also, are those where our Lord showed flashes of anger, expressed not only in words but also in deeds.

Remember that part where our Lord drove away with a whip those who converted the temple into a house of buying and selling? It was said that the apostles who witnessed this event remembered that our Lord was consumed with zeal for the house of his father.

Our Lord can be forceful to follow the will of his Father. In fact, he recommends it. He once said: “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent bear it away.” (Mt 11,12)

And that other episode involving Peter trying to restrain Jesus from proceeding to Jerusalem where he would “suffer many things from the ancients and scribes and chief priests and be put to death.”

Our Lord gave him a sharp rebuke: “Get behind me, Satan, you are a scandal to me, because you mind not the things that are of God, but the things that are of men.”

Peter, for sure, had the best of intentions when trying to stop our Lord, but look what he got instead. We have to be prepared for this kind of situation when it falls on us, as it often does. Our best intentions can deserve a stinging rebuke from God.

Then that other occasion when our Lord threw a litany of harsh words to those who seemed to be hardened in their hypocrisy and deceptive ways. “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites…”

Our life, let alone our Christian life, is not a walk in the park. In fact, many times, it involves difficulties, problems and challenges that we have to learn to tackle and resolve. For this, we have to be strong and soldier-like, experts in hand-to-hand combat and other skills.

In ascetical literature, our life has been consistently described as a warfare, not only against enemies outside us, but also the one right inside of us. There’s unending struggle within ourselves between our spiritual man and the carnal man, the new man and the old man, the inner man and the outer man, etc.

It’s clear that in our spiritual life, we have to live self-discipline. And part of that self-discipline is the ability to scold ourselves, kick and shake ourselves up. From time to time we need to subject ourselves to some shock treatment, some drastic action.

This is because in reality many times we will find ourselves rotting in complacency, laziness, and other forms of being spoiled. We tend to be lenient with ourselves, to often just give a lick and a promise to our defects even if they are already festering.

We have to do these things ourselves, because as we gain in age and stature, others will find it more difficult to correct us or even to make suggestions and reminders to us. We have to be the ones to do these things to ourselves.

In a way, I understand those in the media sector when they assert self-regulation rather than outside control of their behavior, because our human condition makes it difficult for others to correct us. The corrections have to start from oneself—but obviously with the help of others.

And I would say, this way of acting has immediate salutary effects. It simplifies our life, our vision becomes clearer and more objective.

Even the feelings get affected, as we get the sensation that we have just gone through a rigorous exercise that has shed off extra fat and other unwelcome elements. We start feeling lighter, leaner and meaner—in the good sense.

The art of self-discipline really has to be learned, even if it has to be lived in a discreet and natural way, able to blend with the environment yet knowing how to go against the current when needed.

This has to be taught in a very personal way, usually in the context of the family, school and Church, and in that more intimate means called spiritual direction as well as friendship.

Modeling this lifestyle is a necessity these days. People need to see at least the more external forms of the virtues of temperance and fortitude, in short supply these days.

From there, it is hoped that our self-discipline goes deeper to the more complex inner issues of our life. And these are many. In fact, endless. (The Mindanao Examiner)

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