To be sure, if we have to truly Christian, we need to be tough, really tough. Christ himself was tough, but with the toughness of love that goes all the way of assuming all the sins of men by offering his life on the cross. To be Christ-like we need to be tough. At the same time, to be tough we need to be with Christ. Otherwise, whatever toughness we may show would not be the real toughness expected of us.
This toughness of Christ was described by St. Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians: “For our sake, God made Christ to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (5,21)
St. Peter made the same assertion: “Christ bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.” (1 Pt 2,24) In other words, Christ was not afraid of sin if only to save the sinner out of his love for all of us who are all sinners. He was and continues to be willing to assume our sins, as if they were his own, if only to save us.
He was not squeamish, prudish or puritanical in his attitude toward our sin. In fact, he was kind of pro-active about it, unafraid to get dirty as long as what really matters about us is accomplished. That is why he was fraternizing more with the sinners than with the self-righteous.
As he himself said: “I came not to call the righteous, but the sinners to repentance.” (Mk 2,17) And, “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (Jn 3,17)
We need to train ourselves in this kind of toughness. What we have to avoid is the phenomenon now described in the British slang of the word “snowflake.” As described by some people, a snowflake “is a term used to describe an overly sensitive person who thinks the world revolves around them.”
Such person “gasps in horror when he hears an opinion he does not like, and believes he has a right to be protected from anything unpalatable.” He is “self-obsessed and fragile, easily offended, or unable to deal with opposing opinions.”
When we truly follow Christ, we take the initiative to approach and be friendly with everybody, regardless of who or how they are. We would not be easily scandalized by whatever defects, failures, offenses or sins others may have. In fact, these conditions would draw our attention and affection for them more.
In other words, we do not wait for other people to show some signs that they deserve to be loved or cared for by us. Our constant attitude is to love everyone automatically, showing keen interest in everyone and eagerness to help in any way.
This does not mean that we do away with the difference between good and evil, truth and falsehood, what is moral and immoral. We should not condone evil, but we have to learn how to deal with evil in all its forms in a charitable way.
Evil is defanged by goodness, not by another evil, as in going into hatred, anger, revenge, indifference, etc. Whatever malice there is can always be overcome by the goodness of God’s mercy as shown by Christ who asked for forgiveness even for those who crucified him.
God’s mercy will always have the last word. As St. Paul said, “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” (Rom 5,20) Obviously to overcome evil with goodness will always involve suffering, for which we have to ready. That is why we need to be tough.
We have to teach our heart not to be easily overtaken by anger and other bad emotions and passions. Let us teach it how to be tough with the toughness of Christ’s love and mercy.