IN our public discourse, we should always observe proper decorum and tact, respectful of others’ views and opinions, no matter how different or even in conflict with ours. We should have the gift of tongue that would enable us to choose the right words that should be spoken at the right time and place and to the appropriate people.
We should avoid being quarrelsome, given to bashing, fault-finding, and sowing of intrigues.
But for all that, we should neither forget that we have to be shameless and bold in expressing our views, especially if they pertain to the necessary and saving truths of our faith and not just matters of opinions. We have to have a healthy sense of shamelessness in this regard, following the example of St. Paul who said:
“Preach the word. Be prepared in season and out of season. Reprove, rebuke and encourage with every form of patient instruction. For the time will come when men will not tolerate sound doctrine, but with itching ears they will gather around themselves teachers to suit their own desires…” (2 Tim 4,2-3)
We should avoid succumbing to what is called as human respect as cited in the Acts of the Apostles when St. Peter said: “Truly I perceive that God is no respecter of persons.” (10,34) It is also cited in the Letter to the Romans when St. Paul said: “There is no respect of persons with God.” (2,11)
We have to understand well the meaning of human respect. It does not mean that God does not respect us as persons. We are in fact his image and likeness, and children of his, objects of his boundless love.
Human respect simply means that God is not shy at all in proclaiming the redemptive truths to all of us, and practices no partiality with anyone or with any group. His love, his concern that obviously will include elements that would be hard for us to accept, is for all irrespective of who and how we are.
Let’s remember that for us to reach our ultimate goal of being with God in heaven, we need to have some shamelessness and forcefulness. Christ himself said so: “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subject to violence, and the violent lay claim to it” (Mt 11,12)
But God, as shown in Christ, also knows how to make and present things with delicacy. His boldness and the forcefulness of his preaching are compatible with patience, compassion and mercy.
We have to learn this healthy sense of shamelessness and forcefulness that Christ lived and showed us. We may call this kind of shamelessness as holy shamelessness. We have to go through the process of acquiring the pertinent attitude and skill by first studying and familiarizing ourselves with the example of Christ and the saints, from the apostles down to the last saint.
We should not be afraid of the sacrifices that would be involved in this effort. We have to know when to flow with the tide and when to go against the current. We have to see how our virtues of prudence, tact and charity can go together with boldness and forcefulness.
The daily events and challenges should offer us the opportunities to acquire the proper sense of shamelessness. Our experiences, together with our studies, should leave us with precious lessons in this regard. Even our failures, if taken properly, can infuse us with greater wisdom.
We have to realize that more than words, the living witness of our lives that are consistent with Christ’s words and example is more eloquent in preaching about Christianity. It is deeds more than words that can more effectively convey the spirit of Christ to us!