THESE TWO QUALITIES may look incompatible with each other, but that’s what Christ wants us to have. On the feast of St. Bartholomew, aka Nathanael, on August 24, we are somehow reminded of this apparently conflicting blend. Christ chose Bartholomew as one of the apostles for being a person with no guile. (cfr. Jn 1,45-51)

And more directly, he said that his disciples should be simple as doves yet shrewd also as serpents. (cfr. Mt 10,16) It’s a combination that is indeed confounding, but we just have to find a way to make these qualities blend.

I suppose the secret is again to look at the example of Christ. More than that, we have to learn how to be like Christ, to be another Christ, an ideal that we can manage to achieve because Christ has given us all the means. We just have to do our part.

And that means that we should try to develop the discipline of always looking at Christ and following him. I know this is not an easy task, but we can always try. If we persevere in trying, always asking for grace, there surely will come the time when such combination can become a reality in our life.

We obviously have to make daily plans and strategies, adapting and modifying them as circumstances demand, and as insights and lessons are learned along the way. It’s always a work in progress, and we just have to learn how to be patient and sport. There will be good times and bad times, victories and defeats, but we just have to move on, despite whatever.

Fact is, we are in an increasingly complicated world. There are now many smart people around, quick to rationalize their actions. This is especially true among our political leaders, who in their quest for power, will do everything—mostly unfair means and reasonings—to gain or keep that power.

But it would be a disaster to us if we respond to this complicated mess with our own version of convoluted self-justifications. This happens when we start thinking, judging, reasoning and concluding without God or, worse, when we think God’s clear commandments are already obsolete, irrelevant, a drag to our interests, etc.

Sad to say, there are now many people who think that God’s clear laws are out of touch with reality, and so they craft their own ideologies that are mainly based on what is practical, convenient, popular, or what can gain them power, etc.

In history, we have seen many cases like this. There were barbarianism, massive persecution of Christians or people not in agreement with the current administration. There were Nazism, Fascism, Communism and some questionable forms of socialism and capitalism, and now, an unhinged Liberalism.

What could be worse were those instances when religion was used to precisely go against God’s clear commandments. Some people have gone to the extent of using their religion to justify divorce, abortion, ethnic cleansing, terrorism, etc.

Yes, we have to deal with the complicated and complex situations as they come. That’s what Christ warned us about: “I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.” But we have to remain simple just the same yet able to deal with these complicated situations. Simplicity is not naivete. It just means we have to know how to stick by God’s laws no matter how difficult a situation may be. It’s a matter of conviction that knows how to reinvent itself without compromising its essence as the need arises. It knows how to be flexible, adaptable and versatile. This is precisely the shrewdness of simplicity! By Fr. Roy Cimagala (EV Mail August 22-28, 2022 issue)