Giving witness to our faith in public
Thursday after Epiphany
By Fr. Roy Cimagala
Christ went to a synagogue, unrolled the scroll, read some passages and proclaimed that what he just read was fulfilled in him upon the audience’s hearing. And the people were amazed at the gracious words Christ spoke. (cfr. Lk 4,14-22)
That gospel episode somehow reminds us that like Christ, we too should proclaim our faith as revealed in the gospel first with our own life, words and deeds, before we can proclaim it to everybody else with a certain eloquence and effectiveness.
We have to realize more deeply that we need to live our faith also in our public life. Our faith is not supposed to be only private and personal, since our life in public is an integral and unavoidable part of our life, and there has to be certain consistency of our faith in our private and public life.
But we have to realize also that some prudence and discretion in this matter is required. And that’s because we have to make sure that our faith avoids getting entangled in temporal affairs and matters of opinion where a plurality of views should be respected. Besides, our faith tells us that we cannot solve all our problems here on earth, and that the final judgment belongs to God and not to us.
We have to expect some differences, conflicts and disagreements among ourselves. We have to expect to be misunderstood and to suffer, even up to death, since Christ already showed us how these possibilities can also happen to us as it happened to him who was the perfect embodiment of the Christian faith.
Christ, for example, did not engage in partisan politics although he knew very well the ugly shenanigans of the leaders of that time. He, of course, proclaimed what was right and wrong, did some corrections and even scoldings, especially among those close to him, the apostles. In all these, what was clear was that everything was done with charity which is an indispensable partner of faith. Without charity, faith cannot fly.
But, yes, we have to proclaim our faith in public, in season and out of season, as St. Paul once said. Especially these days when delicate moral issues need to be resolved very clearly: abortion, confusion about sexual identity and human nature, disconnection of science and technology from morality, lack of respect for freedom of conscience, questionable educational thrusts in schools, etc.
Faith and religion are always involved in these issues. While these issues have to be considered under many aspects, we have to understand that the considerations of faith and religion, being so basic in us, should be given priority.
It’s in our faith and religion that the fundamental and ultimate meaning of these issues are given. It’s where our ultimate common good is determined. The practical, the legal, the social, cultural and historical aspects have to somehow defer to them.
Contrary to some views, being consistent to one’s faith and religion in public office does not make him a fanatic, a fundamentalist or detached from reality. Quite the opposite is true.
Certainly, they have to do this task properly, knowing which part of the issues are open to opinion and therefore can change, and which are of the nature of the eternal truth, that should not be changed.
They have to master the art of dialogue, knowing how to argue in defense especially of the uncompromisable part of the issues with forcefulness, flexibility and naturalness. This is where their leadership can truly be shown.