Nm 11:25-29; Ps 19; Jas 5:1-6; Mk 9:38-43.45.47-48
Tact – acute sensitivity to what is proper and appropriate in dealing with others, including the ability to speak or act without offending. We already talked about Christian correction.
Connected with it is the virtue of Christian Tact. Farmer’s Almanac gives a description of tact as “rubbing out another’s mistake instead of rubbing it in”. In a funny way, someone said that tact is the ability to tell a man he has an open mind when he has a hole in his head! In today’s Gospel (Mk 9:38-43.45.47-48) Jesus taught his disciples to be broad-minded and generous, responsible and wise in their choices, for no good will be left unrewarded, no evil will be left unpunished. The Gospel pericope thus gives us a teaching on tact, Christian tact. And this virtue has four marks.
FOUR MARKS OF CHRISTIAN TACT
Tolerance of those with whom we may disagree. Tolerance is the capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others.
“Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me.”(Mk 9:39)
¨ Each one has a right to his/ her own thoughts. Respect this right. Truth is bigger than anyone’s grasp of it.
¨ Tolerance is not a lazy acceptance of anything; is not a feeling that there can’t be assurance anywhere.
¨ Tolerance is reverence for all the possibilities of truth.
¨ It is charity greater than faith and hope. Intolerance is a sign of arrogance and ignorance: believing that there is no truth beyond the truth one sees.
¨ Any doctrine or belief must finally be judged by the kind of people it produces. Life proves doctrine or belief. No man can entirely condemn beliefs that make a man good. However, tolerance is not relativism: a theory that conceptions of truth and moral values are not absolute but are relative to the persons or groups holding them.
Acceptance of those who do good.“For whoever is not against us is for us.” Acceptance here deals with positive welcome of persons due the simple reason that they are persons and thus are God’s “children” .
¨ Be accepting of those who do God’s work. Doing good to them will not go unnoticed, unknown and unrewarded by God. Of course those we disagree with may have unacceptable positions, ideas or views. Let that be!
¨Agree to disagree agreeably. But these disagreements do not excuse you to be rude and not be accepting of their person. Remember, acceptance of all persons unconditionally is the least measure of God’s commandment to “love as you love yourself.”
¨Each one has a right to speak his/ her own thoughts. Freedom of speech is a basic democratic right. Personhood is defined by “sounding through.” But there are limits: doctrines that destroy morality and remove the foundations of civilized and Christian society must be combated without acceptance. Voltaire once said, “I hate what you say, but I would die for your right to say it.”
¨We may hate a man’s beliefs, but we must never hate the man. We may wish to eliminate what he teaches, especially those which destroy absolute visions and values, but we must never wish to eliminate him.
Compassion on those in need – deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it. ”Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.”
¨The blessings we receive in this life are not meant for our selfish enjoyment, but to enable us to do good to those in need.
¨Failure to do so, as St. James reminds us in the second reading (Jas 5:1-6), is the sign of a hardened heart which will be judged very severely by God.
¨A reminder regarding being rewarded in this life for the compassion we show to those in need is in order though. In this life, in the temporal order of things, a bit of sacrifice may be demanded of us.
Christian tenacity is the quality of tending to hold persistently to Christian teaching and moral principles.
“If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off.”
¨What comes to mind here is St. Paul’s metaphor of the Church as a body. It would be good to examine our relationships in general, and even our church relationships in particular.
¨Should there be relationships that oppress us, that leads us away from becoming a better person and a better Christian, or that causes us to “mortally” sin against God, the Gospel prescription is to tactfully sever from these relationships. Why tenacity? Because when you hold on dearly to your Christian teachings and moral principles, that is, to your faith and morals, you’d be demanded to let go of your hold on or “be cut off from” the mundane concerns that only serve to lead you away from God.
Tenacity to Christian Principles is the foundation of Christian Sustainability. Without these faith principles, we are only as good as a pagan diplomat.♥