Summary executions

By: Francis B. Ongkingco March 17,2017 - 10:32 PM


The method of summarizing aims to make a complicated story, a hard lesson or a multi-layered event simpler and more understandable. Summarizing helps us to extract main ideas and integrate concepts to package for sharing with others.

As a method, summarizing is useful for resolving problems related to things, but it cannot be applied to persons. A person can never be summarized given his unfathomable personality, character, talents and contributions. Moreover, one cannot terminate a person like a malfunctioning machine when he starts to behave in a dysfunctional way in family, work and society.

His innate dignity, created in the most sublime image and likeness of God, cannot be simply trifled with, dismantled and disposed of. Sadly, some believe that when a person no longer “functions” properly, he is best summarily executed to avoid infecting society with the virus of his vices.

The numerous summary executions are becoming a staple part of our society’s daily moral diet. We cannot gauge to what extent these are dampening and distorting the consciences both young and old alike. But it won’t be long before others, especially the young, will begin to consider applying this summarizing mentality to things, situations and persons just to achieve their own selfish ends.

I was struck by a passage in the Gospel that revealed this vicious attitude of summarizing things. It spoke of Jesus describing the final judgment where men will be separated into two groups: the sheep and the goats.

The Lord first addressed the sheep welcoming them to Heaven. He revealed to them the reason for their reward. “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.”

The righteous, perhaps in their joy, were at a lost at our Lord’s words and thus clarified: “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?”
On the contrary, God spurned the goats because they did not minister to Him as the righteous did. His harsh words of condemnation were: “Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.”

The condemned, confused about this verdict, sought to justify themselves: “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?”

The contrast in their responses is very striking! They both asked the same question, but the version of the condemned is summarized. They reduced their question into 25 words compared to the 43 that the righteous used.

Maybe the sacred writer was likewise summarizing. But since the true author of Scripture is the Holy Spirit, I believe the difference affords us an important lesson. One observes that the just addressed our Lord eight times with the pronoun you while the condemned only twice.

The emphasis on you by the righteous reveals how they dealt personally and deeply with our Lord in these charitable works. The condemned, seemed to have been rushing, wanting to get things done and over with so that they could do their things. Is this not how we could often summarily execute the commitment of love we each are called to render to God and neighbor?

Furthermore, our Lord’s reply to the righteous is slightly different from that of the condemned. To the saints, He says: “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” To the condemned: “Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.”

Our Lord wanted to stress how the saints saw brothers in other people, ultimately seeing and serving Christ. These grew in mercy and compassion. The condemned, however, only saw individuals and dealt with them in a detached way. Indeed, they were doing good things but were not becoming better persons themselves.

If we resolve to avoid summarily executing our love and our duties to God and others, like the saints in Heaven, we will one day joyfully hear our Lord’s comforting words: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

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TAGS: attitude, daily, Gospel, moral, person, Summarizing, Summary

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