What is faith?

As I learned from my previous classes in MAPAC through Sir Francis Castro, it’s interesting to note that life after death was not in the “theology” of the early Jewish tradition. Before, when Jews die, they believe that that was it. The end. No more life after death. Somewhere along the way, they developed this idea of life after death. Notice that in the Hebrew Scripture (Old Testament), only in the second book of Maccabees will you find the word “resurrection”, the rising of the dead, of those who have fallen “asleep” (2 Maccabees 12:43-45). That was in the context of a family who was forced to eat “swine’s flesh” (2 Maccabees 7). For them, to eat pork is to abandon the faith of their forefathers, surrendering to false gods and idols. So when they die as witnesses to their Jewish faith, shall they die in vain? No. These family died with the hope that, through Lord God’s compassion, they will rise from the dead.

Reading Maccabees is teaching me of faith. It is not about certainty. It is groping in the dark. By believing, I surrender to whatever will happen. And through this darkness, God will be walking side by side with me.

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Jesus writing on the ground

Today’s Gospel is taken from the account of John about A Woman Caught in Adultery. We have a day of recollection together with the Alfano Fraternity (the name of my house) brothers in MAPAC. During our sharing, I pointed out Jesus writing on the ground. What was he writing?

The answer: It doesn’t matter.

The Gospel reminded me of a wounded man hiding inside a Japanese temple.

One day, a wounded man entered inside a temple to hide. Minutes later, two policemen saw an old man at the gate and asked whether he had seen a wounded man.

“Relax, let’s drink a cup of tea. This brew is the best in town,” he told them.

Annoyed, they threatened to kill him if they found out that he’s hiding the wounded man, trying to force their way to search inside.

“If I’m going to die, let me drink my tea first,” the gatekeeper said then sipped some tea.

Then the looked at each other and decided to look somewhere else.

I would like to point out some similarities in these two stories:

  • Both Jesus and the old temple keeper handled the issue with equanimity;
  • Both the wounded man and the woman have their own circumstances which weren’t even divulged first. The wounded man might have been a bandit or the woman might have been a widow looking for some financial support from some men;
  • The scribes and Pharisees will use the stoning of the woman to “have some charge to bring ” against Jesus as part of their ploy to dispose him; the pursuers in the temple threatened to kill the old man;
  • Appearing “unconcerned”, Jesus wrote on the ground; the old man sipped some tea.
  • Both were resolved peacefully. The scribes and Pharisees walked away; the pursuers of the bandit went somewhere else.

There are lots of details to reflect in the Gospel like how a male-dominated society at that time creates this system of adultery pinning the blame on women and letting men get away with it. I might be mistaken but I heard this is still present in some cultures up until now. This analysis needs some sociocultural perspective and that’s not my forte.

Like the wounded man who might turn out to be a bandit, so the woman might have been just a victim of circumstances. And for Jesus, there was even no need to dwell on the whys of hows. Jesus said to her, go and “sin no more”. What a way to express unconditional love.

I don’t know how the wounded man hiding in the temple ended. I might be just as beautiful as the sending off of the woman. I imagine the old gatekeeper telling his man to also go and live in a decent way of life.

Sunday Reflection: How a water drum inspired me

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Introduction: This is the first time I will post a Lectio Divina (Diving Reading) Reflection. As a Marist young Brother, I don’t give sermons. But like a teacher (or a future teacher), I can give my personal experiences. I’ll do it the WordPress way. Just pardon my English. Continue reading