PARADOXICAL

The faith chronicles

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

 

Love and discipline


Love and discipline are not contradictory terms but complementary.


Love


Love is manifested in five ways:


1. Goodness/kindness - the opposite of: malice/indifference

2. Steadfast love - covenant relationship

3. Mercy and compassion - warmth and affection

4. Graciousness/generosity/favor

5. Agape - sacrificial love


The totality of all love is expressed in John 3:16.


***


God is love but He is firm as well.


He is loving but He is also just. He is merciful but He is not indulgent. He wants maturity for us; He does not want to spoil us.


God doesn't overlook unrepented sin. God's love has no limit, but God limits wrongdoing.


Discipline


The God of love is also the God of discipline. Discipline denotes training, teaching, punishment, correction. Discipline brings us into righteousness.


We should be forgiving but we shouldn't let wrongdoing pass. We should correct what is wrong.


We can't love too much, give too much, be too affectionate, for it will be a "sloppy" kind of agape love.


***


It requires wisdom to combine love and discipline.


God's grace is free but not cheap. It cost Him the life of His only son.


Discipline and correction isn't meant to hurt but to correct. God disciplines us because God loves us.


(This was excerpted from a Ligaya ng Panginoon material.)






Tuesday, May 18, 2004

 

Human logic versus God's mind


"God has given us a mind and the capability to reason. We should put these human faculties to good use whenever we face decisions. However we should also remember that God wants to guide our decision-making so that we can become more and more like his Son, Jesus. We need to have faith that God really can reveal his will to us. He may use the Scriptures or the words of trusted friends, but he may also use surprising ways. Therefore, we need to be open and trusting, learning the right mix between using our intellects and listening to the Spirit." (Word Among Us, Easter 2004)


 

What is the Bible?


Etymology


'Bible' literally means 'book'. It came from Byblos, the name of an ancient Phoenician city (now Jebeil?) famous for papyrus (from which the word 'paper' came).


Greek: biblion (booklet') and bibli'a ('books'). Latin: biblia (book(s?)).


Author(s)


Taken as a singular book, it has one principal author, God, and one main theme, salvation. But it has many books: 45 + 1 (Old Testament, OT) + 27 (New Testament, NT) = 73 books.


Its main authors are Isaiah, Peter (2 books) and Paul (13)


Theme


It has the themes of love, sin, exile, redemption.


Form


It is written in various literary forms: poems, parables, historical accounts, proverbs.


Places of composition


In Israel and during the Diaspora.



Original language


It is written originally in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. The bulk of OT is Hebrew and some Aramaic and Greek. NT is all Greek.


Period of writing


It has extended period of writing, from the time of Moses (1250 BC) to 2Peter (130 AD)



 

What makes the Bible so special?


The Bible is a unique book because it claims to be inspired by God. It became so through divine inspiration (2Tim 3:16…) (Inspiration - root word: spirit - means help, grace, impulse.) For this reason, a lector at mass begins with "A reading from the letter of St. Paul…" but does not end with "This is the word of St. Paul," but "the word of the Lord."


Another word for the Bible is Scripture ("something written") or holy writ.


"All scripture is inspired by God and useful for (1) teaching, (2) refuting error, (3) guiding people's lives, and (4) teaching them to be upright."



What is divine inspiration?


(See 2Pt.) 'Divine' means "from God." As mentioned, 'inspiration' connotes help, grace, impulse.


There are three kinds of divine inspiration:


(1) pastoral ('pastor' = 'shepherd')( Like God helping Moses, the Bible helps the person accomplish his purpose)

(2) prophetic ('prophet' = 'speaking on God's behalf', as in the Book of Jeremiah)

(3) biblical (the evangelists, Jude).


Biblical inspiration affects the person in his mind, will and capacity, i.e.,


(1) enlightens the mind (thoughts, ideas, plan of action)

(2) strengthens the will (courage, strength, decision)

(3) enhances the ability (leadership, speech, writing)


(See 2 Tim 3:16, 2Peter 1:21)


Because it is inspired by God, it is theologically exact.


Effects of divine inspiration


(1) revelation - God is revealed.
(2) unity - There is one principal author.



What's the criterion of inspiration?


('criterion of inspiration' = 'objective criterion')


God's own testimony, as taught by Jesus to His disciples, handed down to the Church.



 

Other attributes: truthfulness, completeness, and sacramentality


Truthfulness


The Bible teaches salvific truths, i.e. teaches about salvation in an infallible way.


Quotes:


St. Augustine(?): "What do I care if heaven is like a circumambient sphere (in Ptolemaic system) and not a dish cover! The Holy Spirit does not teach things useless for salvation."


Galileo: "The Bible does not teach us how the heavens go but how to go to heaven."


Completeness


The Bible is complete. There's no need to invent.


Luther's 'sola fides' (salvation by faith alone) threw out the Book of James where it says, "We are saved by good works also."


Therefore, accept all parts of the Bible.


But it doesn't mean only the Bible is true and only in the Bible can we find the basis of salvation.


In the Catholic Church, there's the matter of sacred Tradition. ('Tradition' = 'handed on'; 'trans + do' = 'across + give') (Jn? 20:30, 21:25, 2Thess 2:15) In 2Thess.2:15 there is a proof of tradition (~16 years). It is important to note that God's word was handed on not in the written form right away.


Moses (13th c. BC) to Abraham (19th c. BC) to the Pentateuch (6th c. BC) is oral tradition. Jesus died in year 33. It was the year 50 when Paul wrote his letter to the Thessalonians. Year 33 to year 50 is therefore oral. (See 2Thess.2:15)



If you dismiss Tradition, you're in danger of missing a lot.


Case in point: Do you believe in the Trinity? But the "trinity" is not found in the Bible! And yet nearly all Christians believe in the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.


But the Bible is always used for the conferment of the (traditional) sacraments. The sacraments can't be brought home but the Bible can be brought anywhere.


The Bible contains all the truths that we need to believe in order to be saved. This does not imply 'sola scriptola' (faith based on Scripture alone; the one aggressively preached by fundamentalist Christians). The Church is necessary. (See Mt. 16:18, 29:19)


True, in Rev. 22:18-19, there's a warning against adding or removing from the book. But see Jn. 20:30, Jn. 21:25 (NAB translation): "Not everything is written."


Sacramentality


('Sacrament' = 'encounter with God')


When read as it should be, the Bible offers the believer a personal meeting with God.


There's no such thing as sacraments "to go."


But the Bible has portability. Moreover, every sacrament is conferred with the word of the Lord.



 

Biblical Canon


'Canon' refers to the rule for faith and morals.


('Canon' = 'list of norms, pattern, rules'; 'canonical' = belonging to the canon; 'canonize' = 'include in the list of saints, models of real Christian life')


'Biblical canon' = list of books recognized by the Church as inspired and therefore to be considered as Word of God which now become our rule of life (faith) and how we live (morals).


Protestants have a different canon because they don't recognize the seven deuterocanonical books (deutero = new), which they call the "apocrypha" (a-po'-kri-fa). One consequence of this is they don't believe in purgatory which is mentioned only once in 2Macabees 12:46.


Old Testament


Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra,
Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.


Deuterocanonicals


Tobit, Judith, Esther (Greek), Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, Baruch, Letter of Jeremiah, Song of the Three Young Men, Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees.


New Testament


Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, Revelation.



There are three kinds of Bible books according to purpose:


(1) Historical - the gospels

(2) Wisdom/Sapiential/Doctrinal/Teaching - Pauline Letters, Catholic epistles (encyclical type)

(3) Prophetic - Revelation


Trivia: Psalm 119 is the longest psalm.





 

Biblical Interpretation: Context


(Warning: This may offend non-Catholics, but if you have an open mind, you're more than welcome.)


In interpreting the Bible, always read the text in context.


Observe the text. Interpret the text as a whole. Consider the ff. contexts in the interpretation.


1. literary context

2. historical context

3. social context

4. cultural context


To illustrate context, read Matt. 5:48, "Therefore, be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect."


Question: Is the very idea of human perfection plausible at all?


Answer: No, man can never hope to be perfect. The statement must mean something else. Besides, it starts with 'Therefore,' meaning it is the concluding part of something.


The fact is, it would be unfair to interpret this sentence without reading the entire passage in its entirety: Matt. 5:43-48, which speaks about God's fairness: "God is fair to all, follower and non-follower alike."


"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your friends, hate your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may become the sons f your Father in heaven. For he makes his sun to shine on bad and good people alike, and gives rain to those who do good and to those who do evil. Why should God reward you if you love only the people who love you? Even the tax collectors do that! And if you speak only to your friends, have you done anything out of the ordinary? Even the pagans do that! You must be perfect -- just as your Father in heaven is perfect." (Today's English version)


Moreover, be aware that the Book of Matthew is part of the Gospels. The Gospels is just one of the 27 books of the New Testament. Besides the New Testament, there is the Old Testament, the Jewish scripture. The New and Old Testaments comprise the Christian Bible. The Bible is authored by the Church.


How can others use the Bible against the Church? "The beauty of the stained-glass window can only be appreciated inside the church."


***


Another illustrative example: The Biblical 'hope.


In 1 Peter 1;15 "hope" is not something but someone. In Tim 1:1, "Jesus, [is] our hope."



 

Proper disposition in reading the Bible


(1) Faith
(2) Humility and perseverance - because a lot of times, it is hard to understand.
(3) Obedience - "listen attentively"
(4) Prayer - "communing with God"



Faith


To grasp the message of God in the Scripture we must read it in the same spirit or frequency it was written in. It's like tuning in to a radio program. The Bible was written by believers to lead them to faith. (Jn. 20:30-31. 1 Jn. 5:13. Heb. 11:6) 'Faith' is "building up our life on God's word." (Mt. 5:24ff)


Humility and perseverance


"God resists the proud but gives His grace to the humble." (Job 22:29; Prov. 3:34. Mt. 23:12 Lk. 1:52, James 4:6; 1Pt 5:5) Mary, too, did not understand at first. Persevere in studying. Ponder it. Don't philosophize. (See Lk. 2:18-19, 50-51)


Take it from Job. The Book of Job is about the suffering of a just man; a prefigurement of Christ, a just man who suffered.



The original Bible should be referred to because "every translator is a traitor."


Obedience


In Mt. 7:24, obedience is like "building a rock." Lk. 11:28 says "Be doers of the word, not hearers." See also Jn.1:22. 1 Samuel3:7-10: "Speak, Lord, your servant is listening." See also Ps. 119:105.


'Obedience' = (Latin through French) ob audiere - ob = intently, audiere = listen ('audio,' 'audience'), hence 'listening intently.'


Prayer


Bible-reading is done in prayer.


Prayer is dialogue between you and God. In the annunciation (Lk. 1:38), Mary replies, "Behold the slave girl of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word."


We begin and end our Bible study/reading by praying to the Holy Spirit, i.e., God is initiating the process.



The four-step Discovery Method is the recommended approach to teaching the Bible. It is based on the idea that "what one is taught might in time be forgotten but what one discovers is never forgotten." (More on this later.)


There's also another method, the Lectio Divina.


***


Memorize God's word.


In your studies (of God's word), aim for mastery. "Repetition is the soul of teaching."









 

The Lectio Divina


The Lectio Divina is an old spiritual exercise, a method of meditation on the Bible that fosters a deeper, more personal relationship with the Lord.


Mechanics:


1. Find a place where you can be alone and in a relaxed position. (But not so relaxed as to induce 'horizontal meditation' - sleep.)

2. Start with a prayer: thank God for everything, ask for the grace that He may reveal Himself to you, etc.)

3. Read aloud the Bible passage you want to meditate upon (preferably the day's gospel).

4. Whisper the same passage to yourself.

5. Read again, this time slowly, prayerfully. Contemplate. Imagine how the place and people look and smell. Imagine that you are right there in the scene, together with all the characters.

6. Picture Jesus approaching you, talking to you. What does He tell you?

7. Or you can return to the verse and try to look for a word or phrase that touches you most. You may underline that word or phrase with a straight, uninterrupted line.

8. Ask God to disturb your heart and look for a word or phrase that disturbs you. You may underline that word or phrase with a broken line.

9. Ask God why this word or phrase has inspired and/or disturbed you.







Monday, May 17, 2004

 

Galileo on Bible

"The Bible does not teach us how the heavens go but how to go to heaven."


 

Pain

Pain without Christ is suffering; pain with Christ is sacrifice.

('sacrifice' = 'it makes you holy/sacred')


Saturday, May 15, 2004

 


No questions, God


I won't ask further questions, God. I choose to trust in Your wisdom. I choose to trust in Your love. Your seeming no I shall take to be wise. I won't say it's not fair. In the end, like one smart man said, everything is fair. Like Your reply to Job, I wasn't there when You created the universe; who am I question? God, I won't ask any further.



Tuesday, May 04, 2004

 


Work of God


'There are three stages in the work of God: impossible, difficult, done." - Catholic Digest


 


Self-image


'God does not love us because we are valuable. We are valuable because God loves us.'


***


"You are precious in my sight and I love you," says the Lord. (Is. 43:4)



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