Updating for Faith

13 October 2008. Monday of the 28th Week in Ordinary Time
Galatians 4, 22-31 – 5,1; Psalm 113; Luke 11, 29-32

Allow me to explain the Gospel today. We always want to have tangible evidence to establish the fact of a claim or a statement. But if the claim is fantastic, we demand spectacular proof. We want something that is empirical. The Gospel today is no different. The Jews demanded for proof that would prove Jesus’ claim as the Messiah.

So Jesus gave two examples. He said that the Queen of Sheba recognized the wisdom of Solomon and therefore benefitted it. The people of Nineveh discerned from Jonah the voice of God, and therefore repented and mended their ways. Both Solomon and Jonah did not display any spectacular sign for the Queen and the people of Nineveh, but they responded to them positively. (In Filipino, we say, “Buti pa sila” or Good for them!) With the people of Tyre and Sidon, these people will be recognized as more open to God’s will than the Jews who claim to be God’s chosen people. Jesus asserted that He, Himself, was the sign of the present generation, and thus there was no further need for a sign that would prove His spiritual authority (v. 16). Jesus, like Jonah, had a message for the people, if only the people would heed His call. The Queen of Sheba and the Ninevites were given an opportunity and they grabbed it.

In our lives today, there are two things I believe are privileges and opportunities for us. First, Sacred Scripture has been made available for all of us since the invention of the printing press. You see, Scriptures were in the possession of priests who studied them before it was mass produced. Now, we all have copies of bibles — some with study notes like community bibles — but we do not care to read it and diligently study them. We read the Scriptures at masses, but sadly, we take the Word of God for granted. We should learn from our brothers and sisters who are also Christians. They diligently read the Scriptures. They mark important passages and memorize the verses.

The Second Plenary Council of the Philippines said that Filipino Catholics are more at home with devotions and popular piety but continue to be ignorant of Sacred Scripture and Church doctrines. Devotions and popular acts of piety such as processions and celebrations trace their source from the Scripture. In addition, we love people we know. How can we love people we don’t know. So, if we claim that we love Jesus, how much do we know about Him? How sufficient is our love for Jesus when we do not even care to meditate on His life?

Second, the internet revolutionized information. Information is now at our fingertips. Do we use the net wisely in terms of our faith? Because of cyberspace, we can now update ourselves on the new teachings of the Church. The ignorance as articulated by PCP II can be responded to if priests would update themselves with Church teachings which they can access through bulletins sent by Rome to the local church, or they can get it online. Catholics too can update themselves through the Church’s websites. Often the intellectual component of our faith life is outdated. If doctors and pharmacists update themselves with new medicines to be better contemporary medical practitioners, why can’t we Catholics update ourselves so that we can respond fully well to contemporary times? I receive questions from many of students — many of them through chat rooms, personal messages, emails and social networks (Friendster, Multiply and Facebook. Click the icons in the navigation bar above). Some of articles of our faith remain mind boggling for them, because their elders, parents, catechists, teachers were not able to answer them well. They also did not know their doctrines or even know how to account for their faith. They were told JUST to believe!
Updating is in fact a renewal of theology because doctrines also develop. We remain faithful to Jesus and to His Church, and part of it, is to move at the same pace with them. It is not just Church authorities who should reflect but also lay people. We must continue to reflect as a Church, in dialogue, so that we may recognize the Spirit in the signs of our times.

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