Be sim­ple but not naïve

The Freeman - - OPINION -

That's what Christ wants us to be. Sim­ple but not naïve. In fact, he wants us to very clever and shrewd. "Be as cun­ning as ser­pents and as in­no­cent as doves," he said. (Mt 10,16)

He ad­dressed these words first to his apos­tles in the con­text of their very tricky mis­sion in the world where they would be like sheep in the midst of wolves. Try to imag­ine that scene of a sheep in the midst of wolves and we can­not help but think there's no way a sheep has any chance of sur­vival.

But these words are ac­tu­ally meant also for all of us who want to fol­low Christ con­sis­tently. We also live in a very com­pli­cated world where the spir­i­tual and su­per­nat­u­ral val­ues seem to be sys­tem­at­i­cally put out of place. It in­deed would ap­pear im­pos­si­ble for us to be con­sis­tent with Christ while in this world of ours. We def­i­nitely would feel help­less.

But these two qual­i­ties sim­ply have to be cul­ti­vated, as com­manded by Christ. But how? I be­lieve the an­swer can only be when we don't lose sight of the ex­am­ple of Christ him­self. More im­por­tantly, the only pos­si­bil­ity is when we iden­tify our­selves fully with him.

Christ him­self lived these two con­trast­ing qual­i­ties. He was sim­ple, in­no­cent, meek and hum­ble, like a lamb. And ul­ti­mately he al­lowed him­self to die on the cross, like a sac­ri­fi­cial lamb that bore all the sins of men.

But that ap­par­ent help­less­ness and de­feat, as re­garded in hu­man stan­dards, proved to be the smartest and shrewdest act of all, since it ac­com­plished the full re­pay­ment for our sins and of­fenses against God, and achieved our own rec­on­cil­i­a­tion with God, our own re­demp­tion.

This is the most pre­cious les­son we should learn by heart. Only when we al­low our­selves, with Christ and in Christ, to be help­less and to suf­fer what­ever pain and sor­row we can en­counter in this life can we also take part in that clever­est act of Christ!

The clev­er­ness of Christ is not of the kind that sim­ply re­flects the clev­er­ness of our own flesh, or of the world and of the devil. It's not of the tit-for-tat type that would sim­ply make us re­sem­ble the en­e­mies of our soul, and de­stroy the sim­plic­ity and in­no­cence proper to us. Let's be most wary, since nowa­days many are provo­ca­tions we can en­counter and would tempt us to re­spond in the man­ner of eye for an eye.

It is the clev­er­ness and cun­ning of God who is full of love and mercy, pa­tience and com­pas­sion, ea­ger to as­sume all the sins, faults and mis­takes of men. It is the clev­er­ness that does not re­pay evil with evil, but rather re­pays evil with good.

That is how such clev­er­ness can sit well with sim­plic­ity and in­no­cence. With our vi­tal union with Christ, we can man­age to be full of love and mercy also, full of pa­tience and com­pas­sion. We would be will­ing to as­sume the sins, faults and mis­takes of oth­ers.

With that clev­er­ness, we would de­stroy the last bas­tion of our pride that hates to suf­fer for oth­ers, that al­ways wants to be cor­rect and right­eous all the time, never mind how the oth­ers are.

It's the kind of pride that hates to fol­low Christ's ex­am­ple of be­com­ing like sin with­out com­mit­ting sin for the sake of the oth­ers. It's that kind that wants to be holy and saintly with­out any con­cern for the oth­ers.

‘ It's not of the tit-for-tat type that would sim­ply make us re­sem­ble the en­e­mies of our

soul, and de­stroy the sim­plic­ity and in­no­cence

proper to us.’

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