Fr. Roy Cimagala
Those are words of St. Paul who expressed the ideal way of how he should preach. (2 Cor 10,1) He was aware that with his strong character, he tended to preach like a bully.
“I beg you,” he said, “that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world.” He had to struggle with that personal predicament of his. And, boy, what effort he made to tackle that problem of his!
We obviously have a lot of differences—in temperament, in speaking style, in opinions, in personal tastes, in cultures, etc. This is a fact of life which we have to know how to live with.
Like Christ and with his grace, we have to learn how to adapt ourselves to the others without getting lost in the essential by getting entangled in the incidentals. Like St. Paul, we should try our best to be “all things to all men” for the sake of human redemption. That is really what matters.
In a seminar that I attended sometime ago, one of the speakers had a style that I considered as that of a bully. The softest tone of his voice sounded like a thunderbolt to me. It was strident and irritating to the ears.
Worse, his discussion was more argumentative than encouraging and constructive. And I felt that he tended to be finding fault in other people or some events, and rather self-praising, putting himself often as an example of something. At least to me, he gave the impression he was know-it-all guy, and his words sounded so final that left no room for other and even contrary opinions.
How uncomfortable I felt, at first. But later on, I reminded myself that something good can still be learned from a spea-ker who can be consi-dered as bad, ill-prepared or ill-man-nered. God is always behind everything. We just have to find out what God is trying to tell us in this kind of situation.
Just the same, I think it helps a lot if all of us who have to discuss something in public, and especially us, priests, who have to preach, would meditate often on these Pauline words that would remind us of the ideal we ought to aim at when speaking in public.
We should try to give concrete expressions of how this “gentleness and patience of Christ” can also be lived by us. We will obviously have different ideas and interpretations of these words, but at least there would be effort to relate our style with that of Christ.
Let’s remember that Christ said, “Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart.” (Mt 11,29) He had his moments of anger, but his anger was righteous and constructive. Most of the time, his preaching was characte-rized by clarity and simpli-city.
He was always appealing to people’s faith rather than to their emotions. But he also tried his best to attune himself to the mentality of the people despite the tremendous mysteries that he had to convey.
In the end, he bore all the weaknesses of men by dying on the cross. That’s how far Christ’s gentleness and patience went! Are we willing to also go the distance? Fr. Roy Cimagala is Chaplain, Center for Industrial Technology and Enter-prise (CITE), Talamban, Cebu City, Email: roy firstname.lastname@example.org.