Living with unavoidable evil

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The parable of the wheat and the weed (cfr. Mt 13,24-30) reminds us that in our life we have to learn how to contend with unavoidable evil even as we do many good things. We are somehow warned not to overreact to evil that would do us more harm than good. We have to learn to be realistic about this condition without, of course, compromising what is truly essential in our life.

There are times when we simply have to tolerate and suffer the evils around us when in the meantime there is nothing morally right that we can do to turn things around. That is why we are encouraged to develop the virtue of patience.

Patience teaches us not only how to tolerate evil and bear the ensuing pain, but also to reassure us that every suffering brings a very uplifting, if purifying and saving, value in life. It is a very positive value, very forward-looking, in fact. That is why it is always accompanied by serenity and even joy.

Patience is also about waiting for the real and ultimate justice of God to unfold. It assures us that evil does not have the last word. It is always the good, though that good may come at a much later date. It tells us that the justice of God, which is always accompanied by charity, never fails. If it does not come now, it will surely come at some other time.

But there are also times when to tolerate and suffer, or when to wait for a later and more favorable time would not be possible or would be hardly practicable. It’s in these cases when we might be forced to do some cooperation in evil. This where we have to rightly know when that cooperation is legitimate and moral, and when it is not.

In this regard, it is good that we master the moral doctrine about cooperation in evil. Evil, as we said, is growing around us and has struck deep roots. We have to learn how to deal with it. Obviously, we cannot help but get dirty ourselves, and yet there is also a way to clean up and make up. We just always need to return to God, as often as necessary.

Cooperating in evil happens when one participates, one way or another, in an immoral action of another person. This can either be formal, that is, when the co-operator approves of it also, or material, that is, when the co-operator simply tolerates the act because he somehow cannot escape from it.

Formal cooperation is always sinful and should be avoided. Material cooperation may be lawful and thus can be tolerated, but under certain conditions and precautions. Among these conditions are:

(1.)The cooperating act must be, in itself, good or indifferent morally. (2.) The intention of the one cooperating should be good. (3.) There must be a just cause. (4.) And the good effect desired in that cooperation should not be the consequence of the bad effect.

Besides, one should avoid causing scandal and creating occasions of sin for the others. And he should be morally strong not to be affected by the evil he is somehow forced to cooperate materially. In a sense, he should be ready to get dirty and to do away with some aspects of life without compromising his spiritual life. Christ told us not to be afraid of anything that can kill the body but cannot kill the soul. (cfr. Mt 10,28)

For this, one has to intensify his life of prayers, recourse to the sacraments, doctrinal formation and development of virtues. He should always try, in whatever way he can, to transform the evil into something good. When truly united with God, he can manage because God can always derive good from evil.

We really have to learn how to live with unavoidable evil in this world!*


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October 2020