Selling charity today
By Fr. ROY
SELLING charity today
is like selling rotten fish. You would have more success selling it to
a wall. Charity has become a total outcast, hardly known, ignored if
not ridiculed by many who are driven only by their so-called sense of
This actually has
always been our universal human problem. The root cause is that we
pursue justice outside of charity. We make it subject only to our
feelings and passions. Or to purely human criteria and laws that
cannot go far from the eye-for-an-eye law of Talion, and the
tit-for-tat logic of our wiles.
Itís a justice that is
mired in legalism, very prone to manipulations, to knee-jerk
reactions, to the mob rule dynamics, that cannot free itself from the
motive of vindictiveness, and the temptation to gloat over the
misfortunes of others, to insult and do all sorts of below-the-belt
Without charity, itís
a justice that is not an organic extension of divine justice, but its
caricature. It covers only a biased part of the over-all picture of
true justice, and its main if not sole purpose is to punish and demand
restitution, rather than to heal the offender, the sinner.
It considers only the
externals, and hardly the inner drama in menís hearts. Its judgments
are therefore based mainly on appearances and impressions. Those who
dispense it tend to get hasty and rash in their decisions, often
abusing the discretionary part of law.
If possible, what
injustice damaged, wounded and killed, justice should repair, heal and
resurrect to life. If possible, justice should go against the law of
nature, of biology and physics, etc., if only to recover what was
lost. It finds it hard to move on without satisfying its lust for
We have to understand
that without charity, justice can go unhinged, and can simply follow
the madness of a heart deprived of God who is precisely love, charity.
We have to understand that justice is never enough when we deal with
people, especially those who may have offended us.
Without charity, our
justice can only spring and strengthen our self-righteousness, or that
of the world, in its different forms. Itís a justice that cannot
understand the workings of grace, the value of the cross, the need for
forgiveness and the transcendent providence of God.
Still, no matter how
hard it is to sell charity today, we just have to make an act of faith
and hope that one day, people will realize we need charity, the
charity of God and not just our own version, when we pursue the cause
of justice. We just have to run the gauntlet.
Nowadays, the Church,
that is, the bishops and priests, gets accused for not doing enough of
justice. Some contributors of public opinion claim that the Church
gets quiet when one of its own gets involved in some crime, or when it
does not make any clear pronouncements on the volatile political
issues wracking the nation today.
Aside from mistaking
the Church to be composed only of bishops and priests (the Church is
hierarchy-clergy-and the laity and consecrated religious men and women
all together), they want the Church to follow their kind of earthly
justice. They want the Church to shame the suspect or the culprit, for
example. They cry for blood.
Perhaps, itís partly
the fault of our Church leaders for not providing concrete Christian
guidelines on how to resolve problems and issues when they erupt. They
should do this as promptly and as clearly and strongly as prudently
But the truth is all
of us, clergy or lay, if we are to be genuine Christians and living
members of the Church, should practice justice always within the
sphere of the charity of God, revealed and lived by Christ.
Certainly, there are
loopholes in how cases of criminal offenses within the Church human
structure may be handled, or there can be cases of clerics
overstepping their competence and are falling already into partisan
These should be
repaired and corrected. But these are not excuses for the Church to
pursue justice without charity, just like what these Church accusers
want it to do. These accusers are making themselves the final
authority of what justice is and how it should be lived.
Granted, to preach
about justice within charity may be hard, but definitely itís not
impossible. If we just learn how to be humble, if all of us just try
to assume the mind and heart of Christ, as we Christians ought to do,
then the ideal can be made real!