The passerby | Win by losing

By Fr. Roy Cimagala
Center for Industrial Technology and Enterprise (CITE)
Talamban, Cebu City

           THAT assertion certainly raises eyebrows. How on earth, in
the commonest of common sense, can one win by losing? It’s just pure
contradiction. If you win, you win. And if you lose, you lose. Period.
It’s as contradictory as white is to black, up is to down.

            But, alas, Christ tells us so in so many words. “Whoever
finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake
will find it.” (Mt 10,39) Still in another instance, he says:
“Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or
mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a
hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” (Mt 19,29)

            I am sure we are scratching our head as we read these
words. Try as we might, we neither cannot just dismiss these words
since they are spoken by no less than Christ himself. There must be
something to them that our best intelligence just cannot cope.

            That’s right. These words simply have to be taken in
faith, that supernatural gift given to us to which we also have to
correspond not so much with our intelligence and understanding as with
the obedience of faith.

            Yes, we have to make an obedience of faith, that act of
believing not because we understand things presented to us but more
because they are spoken by someone who neither deceives nor be
deceived. (cfr. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 143,156)

            In other words, we believe that we can indeed win by
losing on the authority of Christ who precisely won by losing when he
willingly died on the cross but rose on the third day. In so doing, he
guaranteed the salvation of man, although we also have to do our part
of at least believing him.

            We have to understand then that what is involved here is
not just a natural truth, but a supernatural one, a truth that does
not necessarily go against our nature but rather transcends. It’s a
truth that partakes of the divine nature of God. That’s why Christ
said that we can gain and win from what may appear to be a loss if we
do things for “My sake.”

            This truth of our Christian faith is very relevant these
days as we go through a variety of privations and sacrifices and
expressions and modes of loss and defeat. Let’s hope that we come out
of this pandemic not having a kind of survivor frame of mind, but
rather that of a winner, a victor, a conqueror.

            We should see to it that we come out of this crisis
feeling enriched not impoverished, happy not sad. And the secret is
because we go through this crisis by getting closer to Christ.

            This means in concrete terms that we are growing more in
love with God and with others. We would be willing to make sacrifices.
We would be more generous in our self-giving. The privations and
sacrifices we are going through are the catalysts that would make love
for God and others deeper and stronger.

            This is how we win by losing. By growing more in love,
which is another way of saying by becoming more and more like Christ
who is God, who is love himself, we can win by losing in the sense
that we follow the very example of Christ whose supreme love for us
was shown by offering his life on the cross for our sins.

            He does not mind the cost involved. His sense of justice
is not the strict quid-pro-quo type. It is a justice totally inspired
by charity and mercy, completely gratuitous even if it is not
reciprocated properly by us.

            We need to be more familiar with this truth about winning
by losing. Let’s live out what a proverb said: “Those who give
generously receive more, but those who are stingy with what is
appropriate will grow needy.” (11,24)