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Jesus-Idealist

As Cursillistas, we are idealists. The first talk on our Cursillo Weekend focused on our need for an ideal, and we came to find out that that ideal was the Christian Vision. By the end of our Weekend, we were charged with completing Jesus’ mission to transform our environments and their institutions, and ultimately society. We may not have been born idealists, but we became idealists on our Weekend.

Likewise, Jesus was an idealist. Jesus saw that the world had strayed from the way God intended it to be and He wanted to reform it. His idealism could be summed up in his statement: “You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Mt.5:48. An idealist if ever there was one. We need Jesus as our model of idealism, because the human tendency is to take a good quality like idealism and push it to an extreme. In the process, we hurt our evangelizing efforts to bring others to Christ.

Human Way. As idealists, we may show intolerance for the faults of others as well as impatience with ourselves. We may be constantly bothered by the fact that others are not as they should be and that just about everything should be much better. We may not accept others’ imperfections and think them obligated to overcome them before we can accept them. Further, we may do a job on ourselves, living a life of anger which we push down into our subconscious where it festers as resentment. An irritable tone in our voices is a sure sign. All this can make it difficult for us to reach out to others in a caring way and it even makes it hard for us to live with ourselves.

Jesus’ Way. Jesus teaches us that our idealism must enable us to treat everyone equally and with respect. A good example is shown in the story of the adulterous woman. Jn: 8:1-11. The religious leaders are seeking to accuse Jesus of wrong-doing. Jesus is aware of their intent, but he is above all aware of the woman’s plight. Because the woman’s accusers are stronger than she is and have a better reputation, Jesus does not want them to have an advantage over her in deciding what is just. He levels the playing field by asking her accusers to look first at their own sins. They disappear. Jesus treats her with equality and respect. Living Christ’s idealism, we must treat the morally and spiritually wounded, whom we wish to convert, with respect.

Remedies. As idealists, we are tempted to put too much emphasis on perfection. We can make the world better by approaching it with patience and tolerance for imperfection. Actually, the perfection of God that Jesus presents as model for us consists in compassion: “Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate”. Lk 6:36. By responding in gentleness to another’s pushiness, the heart of that person may be touched to sense that he or she needs to change attitudes and conduct. We must  recognize that the first step for anyone to become better is to feel loved and accepted as one is.

Optimism is important for idealists, both in their efforts to evangelize others as well as to evangelize themselves. Living a life of compassion to others will result in optimism about human beings and situations. Gradually, we will expect that much good will show itself eventually, even though progress comes in small steps. Further, optimism will help us to strive for our own perfection. We come to realize that the law of gradual growth begins only with self-acceptance and that God’s love for us doesn’t depend on our perfection. His love is unconditional.

In our idealistic work of evangelization, it is well to remember that we don’t work alone. Just as we are possessed by the Spirit, so are our hearers. The Spirit is at work in their hearts and will touch them in His time, not our time. We cannot allow ourselves to get ahead of the Spirit. But most assuredly, the Spirit wants our success.