Victorious in defeat
That may sound funny, or a literary oxymoron, but in the lives of saints, in the life of Christ himself, yes, there can be victory in what may largely be considered as defeat.
Just look at Christ's own crucifixion and death. That event, from all human angles, could only mean defeat, a crushing defeat. But it was what led to his resurrection. It was what paid the price for all our sins to attain our redemption. From the spiritual angle, it can only mean victory.
We need to look more closely at this very mysterious phenomenon, so that we can be more in line with God's logic and ways, rather than remain in our very limited, time-and-earth-bound understanding of things.
We need to expand and deepen our perspectives to accommodate this wonderful spiritual and supernatural reality offered to us. Of course, for this to happen, we have to pray, meditate, be humble enough to ask for God's grace, for this is a truth of faith that can only enter our mind and heart when faith that requires humility is alive in us.
Truth is, in this life of ours here on earth, often described as a “vale of tears,” we cannot help but experience contradictions, difficulties, mistakes, insults, ridicule, and all the other forms of failures. This is part of our human condition.
It would, however, be naive on our part if we choose to get stuck with the merely earthly and temporal aspects of our life, when the reality that governs us includes the spiritual and supernatural that requires us to use our faith, more than just our senses and intelligence.
With faith operative in us, we may experience all sorts of weaknesses, but we still can manage to have hope and to wage an appropriate battle to tackle them. With faith, we can avoid falling into the paralyzing state of cowardice. We can spring into action.
Faith lets us share in the power of God who knows how to draw life from death, rest from hard labor, light from darkness, good from evil. We have to learn how to access this reality that is abundantly offered to us by God himself.
With faith, we can echo St. Paul's: “In all things, let us exhibit ourselves as ministers of God, in much patience, in tribulation, in necessities, in distresses...as dying, and behold we live; as chastised, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as needy, yet enriching many; as having nothing, and possessing all things.” (2 Cor 6,9-10)
With faith, we would know the value and meaning of pain, suffering and trials. These are sources of purification, occasions to grow in maturity and other virtues, moments to refine our awareness we are children of God who “chastises whom he loves, and scourges every son he receives.” (Heb 12,6)
Thus, we need to exercise our faith more forcefully and consistently, something that we can do if we pray, meditate on God's word, study the doctrine of our faith, develop the virtues, have recourse to the sacraments, wage a lifelong interior struggle, etc.
Unfortunately, these are activities that are hardly appreciated by the people of today. They are even considered as a waste of time, a repression of the human spirit and freedom, useless relics of antiquity and of the dark ages, etc., the exact opposite of what these activities actually achieve if done properly.
We need to rescue ourselves from such ignorance or misinformation. That's why we have to talk a lot about the role of faith in life of all of us. Faith, like our reason, is not supposed to be practised by a few.
Though we can refuse the use of faith, just like what we can do with reason, we have to understand that faith is meant to be used by all. We are actually beings not only of senses and reason, but also of faith. We use faith, knowingly or unknowingly.
So, we have to realize that faith also has a valid and legitimate place in our public discourses—be it in the media or in the halls of congress and government. We cannot say that just because it is a Catholic faith or a Protestant or Muslim one, it is optional and therefore does not have a necessary role to play in our discourses.
Truth is, faith is always in the middle of our discussions—if not a faith in God, then a faith in something else, including a faith only in oneself. Whether we are aware of that or not, the fact is some kind of faith is always involved.*
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