Saturday, 29 May 2010

Truth, what is the truth?

Today is the feast of the Most Holy Trinity. The gospel is taken from John 16:12-15. As it is only a short gospel I post it here completely:

Jesus said to his disciples:

I still have many things to say to you
but they would be too much for you now.
But when the Spirit of truth comes
he will lead you to the complete truth,
since he will not be speaking as from himself
but will say only what he has learnt;
and he will tell you of the things to come.
He will glorify me,
since all he tells you will be taken from what is mine.
Everything the Father has is mine;
that is why I said:
All he tells you will be taken from what is mine.
I am home in the Netherlands at the moment (hence the unusual picture above; it has been a few years since I last sat on my 'old' horse). Being at home, the topic of Truth is always on my mind. It is such a different world here compared with being in Ireland. In Ireland I always have the feeling there is still some religious undertone in society, even though it might be weak. In the Netherlands I do not sense this at all...

This might just be because I had absolutely no idea of religion when I was living here, and as such just don't have any religious association with Dutch society. Obviously, in Ireland I do, as I have been living there most of my time as an active Catholic, practically since my baptism in 2003. It always raises the question; how is it to live without knowledge of the truth, without the truth being made clear and without having this solid foundation in live?

I didn't miss it, at least not in a conscious way, before I came to Ireland. I didn't know anything about God, and it is hard to miss something if you do not know about. I always hold that I was searching for something, something I just did not know, and that it was only after encountering God that I realized this. Would I like to go back to the live of ignorance, so to speak? No, absolutely not, there is now a fullness in live which I never experienced before, a completeness which was missing.

As the Gospel teaches us, God leads us gently towards the truth. "I still have many things to say to you
but they would be too much for you now",  and I think it is amazing how God does this. We can see it in the development of doctrine, for example the Trinity in todays feast, but experiential, maybe even more so in somebodies life. It is hard though to see so many people around you of whom you can guess don't have a notion at all of the Good News, and the especially here in the Netherlands it seems that there is such a gab between God and the world... the Gospel needs to be preached, but how to reach so many people who seem so far away from receiving it!

Well, I guess this was not really a reflection on the Gospel or the feast but just some thoughts... more questions than answers... but I better go back to the family...

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Pentecost Sunday

The exams are almost over, but we still have one left on Monday. As such I again ask apologies for the brief post. Last week was a busy week with exams, but also some other projects which needed attention. I realise also that I am a good bit behind in video editing work, and hopefully I get the video of Fr. Fergus Ryan OP his ordination ready in the first or second week of June, followed by the diaconate ordination of Bro. David Barrins OP. Good news is that the Irish province is going to expand our effort to use the internet, through reflections and video, in the coming months. So bear with me for a while until this new project gets under way.

This weekend it is Pentacost, the great feast in which we celebrate the Holy Spirits' decent on the apostles. The Gospel is taken from John 20:19-23, in a way going back to Easter Monday, which I find a nice connection. I think it is a nice line for reflection when it says "Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord" (Joh 20:20 RSV). It seems interesting that the disciples only "saw the Lord" after He shows them his hands and feet. Is there something there? Again does it show something of the fact that the presence of God seems sometimes a bit hidden in our lives even if He is standing in front of us? As Mary Magdalene didn't recognise Jesus initially after the resurrection, and like the time when Jesus was standing on the shore of the lake and they initially did not recognise him?

The other point I am going to make is again the same as last week, as here again it comes up; the theme of repentance and forgiveness. As last week with the Ascension, now again we have the sending of the disciples "as the Father has sent me, even so I send you" (Joh 20:21 RSV) and again the strong link with the Repentance. This again is surely an indicator about its importance: "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." (Joh 20:22-23 RSV)

I would like to specifically ask prayers for a friend who is entering the Church today!

Saturday, 15 May 2010

The Ascension

Here in Ireland the Solemnity of the Ascension is moved to the Sunday, which means that we the gospel reading is from Luke 24:46-53 (where in places where the ascension is not moved it is John 17:2-26). We did a bit of Lectio Divina on this text during our chapter meeting of Young Lay Dominicans on Tuesday, and what particularly stood out for me is "that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in [Jesus'] name to all nations" (Luke 24:47 RSV)

A priest said recently to me that he was so amazed how many people doubt that God would forgive them their sins, yet it is the central message of our faith! God came even down from Heaven to become man in order to make the perfect sacrifice which was needed. So God invites us back into communion, the gift is there and as such maybe it is really needed that this message is preached!

I must apology though, because I will not write more of a reflection but get back to the books as we are in the middle of the exam week. We had one exam this morning (Saturday), Moral Philosophy, and have Metaphysics on Tuesday.

Maybe you can keep our exams in your prayers! Metaphysics on Tuesday, Medieval Philosophy on Friday and then Logic on Monday week...

Friday, 7 May 2010

We will come to him and make our home with him (John 14:23)

We just finished our last week of classes at the university, and have now only one week till the exams. Very soon I will have half of my philosophy done! The time really goes quick!

As such, just a brief thought on the Gospel, as we have our Friday Adoration in the Church in a short while. There is a lot in the passage as the Gospel is taken from John (14:23-29) which usual guarantees some deep pondering. The input I would like to give is specifically related to the verse "If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." (Joh 14:23 RSV). God comes to us and makes His home with us...

This week a few times the issue came up of the role of faith and reason. St. Thomas Aquinas would hold that we should be able to talk and discover about God with reason alone, even if without revelation it might take a long time to get to a proper understanding and/or with an admixture of errors. Then twice it came up that somebody said they are agnostic, not atheistic... but for me, being an agnostic just does not make sense any more... but why?

And it is exactly because of this fact "and we will come to him and make our home with him." (Joh 14:23 RSV). Jesus is real, and our faith is real, it is not just some fairytale. And this is something that cannot be put into words... Once God touched my heart, once I realised what the message of Christianity really is, I could not just ignore it any more. The agnostic position is that the existence of God does not really matter, but once somebody has been touched by Gods love, and realised that it is true, there is no option any more of not caring... you either accept it and accent to this discovery and continue to search God or you reject it...

For me, once God touched my soul, there was no real way back into the land of shadows, but only the way forward to investigate and make up my mind... and once I started to search His face and once I realised that God was inviting me to know Him, once I realised it is real there was no way back...

Also, I liked the verse "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you" (Joh 14:26 RSV) It encourages us to belief and trust in God using us when needed. I know for my part that I am very forgetful, but we can trust on the Holy Spirit who will use us when He needs us, and reminds us of what we need to say... So with this confidence let us go and preach to the nations, that others might also find this treasure hidden in the field... a real treasure of whom to few know the real existence....

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Where I am going you cannot come (Joh 13:33 RSV)

A very short reflection this week... I have been working on a proposal for the last two days and really have to start to prepare for the exams which start today in two weeks time (so please keep them in your prayers!). The Gospel this week is taken from John 13:31-35.

The line that specifically struck me is "Where I am going you cannot come" (Joh 13:33 RSV). Jesus is telling His disciples that "yet a little while I am with you" (Joh 13:33 RSV), indicating that the His passion is coming near. But He does not just prophesies what is going to happen, but also gives an indication what we should do...

Also, but this might be a result of my bad Greek grammar, "You will seek me" (Joh 13:33 RSV) in Greek is "ζητήσετέ με" (Joh 13:33 BGT), which can be an indicative but also be an imperative. In the case of an imperative it says "seek me!".

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