Monday, May 28, 2007

The Holy Spirit, and Being Christian

[sub-labels: Being Christian, Holy Spirit, Holy Trinity]

Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday, a celebration of that event in the Bible when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Jesus' Apostles, fifty days after Christ's resurrection (7th Sunday after Easter Sunday), as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles.

In my understanding, the Feast of the Pentecost in fact has been celebrated in Jewish tradition even before this said event, under a different name, in some circles to commemorate the giving of the Law in Mt. Sinai. Under Christian contexts, this feast commemorates the giving of the Law in Mt. Sinai, and The Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles, as well as symbolizing Judgment Day. Please correct me where I am wrong.

Anyway, yesterday I was happy to have been able to attend mass. I had a whole-day event thing yesterday, and I failed to attend Saturday's anticipated mass or the early 6:00am Sunday mass due to some unfortunate circumstances. Alas, I was able to attend the 8:00pm mass at the Parish of the Holy Sacrifice, University of the Philippines - Diliman Campus. I was happy during mass, and I don't know why - maybe because I was able to attend mass (and I so wanted to), or maybe that whole-day event thing I attended was fun, or maybe occasions within the past week has etched a smile inside. In any case, I learned new things again this time.

First, the priest opened his homily by saying the three most important events that we Christians celebrate are: Christmas (God sending his Son), Easter (God the Son overcoming being human, and resurrecting from the dead), and Pentecost (the giving of the Holy Spirit and its gifts). I thought, "Cool!" I didn't know that. I mean, Christmas and Easter - fine. But yeah, Pentecost.

Second, the priest wears Red on Pentecost. As of now, I haven't yet read the reason behind this. But anyway, in the past few weeks, I have been doing "emcee-ing" chores (acting as an MC or Master of Ceremonies) in this Christian Life Program we're organizing. I don't do the speaking/lecturing; I do just that - emcee-ing, which is simply leading the opening and closing prayers, and giving an introduction to the topic and to the speaker. (Well it's not that simple for a first-timer... The nerves can get to you. :D)

One of the things I was doing for my "emcee-ing" was wearing a shirt color that was somewhat significant to the session's topic (I got these ideas from a CLP I attended elsewhere). For example, when the topic was "God's Love," I wore RED to symbolize love. When the topic was "Who is Jesus Christ?," I wore BROWN to symbolize wood, from which the Cross on which Jesus was crucified was made. When the topic was "What it means to be a Christian," I wore WHITE to somewhat symbolize cleanliness, purity, holiness, etc. For the last couple of weeks, I have been thinking of what to wear when the session topic is "Repentance and Faith." I have thought of wearing VIOLET (or PURPLE - I don't yet know their difference) because from memory I know that the colors of both Advent and Lent are VIOLET. (I checked elsewhere and this seems to be true, except on Gaudete Sunday or the third Sunday of Advent where ROSE is the theme color). In fact, the priest wears a vestment of such color (violet) during Advent and Lent. I thought, this is cool.

I distinctly remember two homilies by two priests (both I think were bishops) in two different masses. One said during a Christmas day mass something like: "We Christians ought to be the happiest people on earth... because we know very well of God's great love for us, particularly manifested in his giving of his only Son, Jesus Christ, to eventually die for our sins and save us." The other said during a gathering of a religious group something like: "To be Christian means to be Holy. To be Christian means to be a Saint." Again, these two messages say that "Christians are Happy," and that "Christians are Holy." I associate being "Happy" with the season of Advent, the eager waiting for God's Son coming down from Heaven and being born to live among us here on earth. I associate being "Holy" with the season of Lent - a time for repentance, a time for reflection on Jesus' suffering because of our sins. Of course, Advent is also actually a time for repentance.

In any case, I thought, this is cool! I will wear purple on the "Repentance and Faith" session - the same symbolic colors of Advent and Lent. Because Christians are Happy and Holy.

Third (going back to Pentecost Sunday), I remember the priest talking about the Holy Spirit - how one will act if he is filled with the Spirit. He first reminded us that we have received the Spirit during our baptism, but to use the gifts of or from the Holy Spirit is altogether a different thing. Essentially, the priest said (from my memory) that, when one is filled with the Spirit, one does things in the will of the Father without question or hesitation, and with humble persistence. He gave examples - for example, John Paul II's persistent message to his fellow countrymen in Poland, even from his pre-Pope days, to give up communism, and how the rest of eastern Europe and even Russia (or USSR) followed suit after Poland. The priest said the late John Paul II was filled with the Holy Spirit. He gave probably two other examples, but I'm sorry I have forgotten them already.

But I guess this is the priest's most important point of all. That is the Holy Spirit. You allow it to work in your life, and you will do great things in the eyes of God. How do we do that? I believe we do that by being clean and holy (i.e. by repenting if you are in sin), and then by having faith in Jesus, in his promise of salvation, in God's will, and in what God can do for us through his Holy Spirit, and in what we can do with the Spirit in us. Repentance and faith. Essentially, we should first make ourselves as immune as possible (and if possible, totally and completely immune) to evil spirits, so that indeed we become more open to the Spirit. And then when the Spirit enters us, we do great things - from the simplest of things on a regular and constant basis (e.g. being patient with "difficult" people), to the greatest of things to serve God (e.g. going on evangelizing missions to Africa, the Middle East, and in communist Asia and other non-Christian countries).

Because being Christian is not just not sinning. After all, there is a saying that goes, "if you try to not do something, you will tend to do that something." That "something" maybe failure - "if you try not to fail, then you may not succeed." Because being Christian is not just about attending mass or attending service or praying. And so on. But while all of those are part of being Christian, they do not solely define what it means to be a Christian. We are also called to service (to serve), to be saints.

And then there's the Holy Spirit. It's there, it's waiting for us, ourselves, to use God's own good and powerful works here on earth.

It's not easy? It certainly is not. But with the Holy Spirit in us, it is very easy.

It takes getting used to; it also takes mental conditioning. Because the Enemy, Satan, can be very deceitful. Satan might sometimes make us think we are filled with the Holy Spirit. And so, when you are really filled with the Spirit, you will see this. Of course, it is also wrong (and even in fact an unforgivable sin) to think that the work of the Holy Spirit is by the devil.

In any case, a path to being a true Christian, to being holy and to being truly happy, is with the Holy Spirit. So one other thing we can start doing right now, is to pray for the Holy Spirit in our own lives. We can start to pray for the gifts of the Holy Spirit also.

In his First Letter to the Corinthians, Paul lists nine (9) gifts from the Holy Spirit. These include wisdom, knowledge, healing, discernment of evil spirits, speaking in tongues, and understanding of tongues. In Catholic contexts, there are seven (7) gifts of the Holy Spirit which include piety and fortitude. Please don't confuse the two, and please don't think they are the same and contradicting. They are two different things. I (personally) use gifts from and gifts of to differentiate the two. I would think that the 9 gifts are like tools we can use, while the 7 gifts are results.

Is the Holy Spirit God but a different person from the Father (and from the Son)? I say, yes. I am no C.S. Lewis, but here is my own personal explanation. I am human and I have a body and I have a mind and a soul. I know I have a mind because I think I do. (I think therefore I am?) But I also believe I have a soul (a spirit) because I believe when I die, there is this spirit that will continue to live on (hopefully to go up to Heaven) - and that is still me. My body and my mind may die, but I know I will still have that spirit. For some, their bodies are still functioning but their minds cannot remember. Still for others, their bodies are not functioning but their minds still are. Someone might "hypnotize" me or influence my mind, to cause my body to do something bad, and if ever I maybe imprisoned for that bad thing that forensics might prove I (my body) did, but anyway, it was not me completely - it was not really my mind.

Anyway, so I would like to look at myself as three persons myself: my body, my mind, and my soul (or a four-person self, with the heart included*). And that is how I see God. God is the Father who has made himself human (Jesus, the only begotten Son of the Father - all of us humans being his children) and who has made himself available to all of us humans (through the Holy Spirit).

We know that we were made by God the Father in his own image and likeness. What is the Holy Spirit like? Is it also in a human shape of - maybe just that - spirit, air, untouchable by the human touch, can pass through walls, can fly, etc? Or is it a dove-like thing? I do not know. But I know God the Father is in heaven, and he works through us here (since sending his Son who has since ascended to heaven) through his Holy Spirit. I think the dove is a great symbol of the Spirit, because there can be many doves (or some other bird) which can be in many different places on earth at the same time.

But I also think what shape or form the Holy Spirit is in is not so important. The thing is, by being a spirit, God can manifest himself and his power to anyone, anywhere.

The important thing is, again, that we ask for the Holy Spirit to enter (and even dominate) our lives. That is the easy path to being a Christian. Sometimes, we may not know that it is there already or that it has already worked in our lives, or sometimes we may think it is there but may not yet be. When we say God is in our presence - that is the Holy Spirit. But again, let us be true Christians, let us be happy and let us be holy. Let us pray for the Holy Spirit in our lives.

I would like to say that this post and perhaps most or all posts in this reactions+reflections blog reflects mostly on what I have read or understood so far to this point. I am very much welcome to any and all of your comments.

* I think that the "heart" is really a cross between the body and the mind. Or it can be viewed as the compassionate, human side of the mind, with the "mind" as the logical, rational side, and thus in this case, when I say "mind" I actually mean "heart and mind." In any case, this is a separate discussion altogether, and I shall not expound here any further.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

r+r moved

the reactions+reflections blog has now been moved from blogspot to :-)

reactions+reflections moved

the reactions+reflections blog has been moved from blogspot ( to its new space on ( of course, the blogspot address still exists and still points to the new address.

has something changed? just that, essentially... but being hosted on has serious advertising consequences... however they are, in the google tradition, "not evil" and clearly under "sponsored links," rather than just simply under "links"...

enjoy them! :D

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

happy 2nd anniv

to! i think it was on this day in 2005 that was born.. of course before that, existed, and it still does..

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Christian and Catholic Beliefs - Idolatry, Mother Mary, and more about Jesus

[sub-labels: Christian and Catholic Faith, Jesus as God, Mother Mary, other gods]

I was treated to two relatively new "ideas" about the Christian and Catholic faith within the past 48 hours.

Last Friday, I listened to a speaker who gave a talk about the heart of a servant. He said there is this saying that what is in your heart reflects on what is in your mouth. And, that God looks at what is in the heart. He then casually mentioned about other Christian groups who question the Catholic practice of praying in front of statues and so on. But the thing is, he said, that we know that when we (Catholics) are praying in front of that statue of Jesus on the cross, and so on, God knows from our hearts that we're not committing idolatry, that we're not praying to that statue, and that we really are praying directly to Jesus and to God. My reaction: my thoughts exactly - almost! I didn't really get equipped with the right words if ever a non-Catholic Christian friend asked me about my Catholic faith of praying in front of a statue and similar things. Now I do.

Some might then say, there's no need then for these statues and images and the like. I don't have the perfect answer for that, but to me, I'd say, what's wrong with that? To me, if you personally do not prefer praying in front of an image or a statue or the like, then don't. But to give up on your Catholic faith altogether? Of course every former Catholic must have had many reasons why he or she has changed religions or religious practices. Refer to my lessons learned later in this post. For now, a good question to ask (particularly for those considering to do the same), "Is there something I do not yet know about the Catholic faith and other religious beliefs, and is that why it feels wrong to practice Catholicism?"

Some groups also condemn the Catholic practice of "praying to" Mother Mary. But to me, we actually don't pray to Mary. Instead, we ask for her help, we ask her to pray for us. It is like asking an elder Christian brother or sister to also pray for my concerns - what is wrong with that? A prayer of two is worth much more than a prayer of one. But then again, most of my Christian brothers and sisters aren't Mothers of God. So when we ask Mother Mary to help us in our prayers, the treatment is a little bit more special. She bore Jesus Christ for 9 months anyway, and took care of him in his youth, and so on and so forth.

Some groups would say that praying directly to God the Father is enough, and that there is no need to ask for Mother Mary's help. The thing is, saying the Our Father is enough, as Jesus said. But again, the more we pray, the stronger are our prayers. Likewise, the more of us pray together, and if Mother Mary as well as all other angels and saints are also praying for us, our prayers become stronger than strong.

Is there something wrong when we recite the Hail Mary? When we say the Hail Mary, we are simply echoing what is already written of her in the Gospels. I believe, speaking words from the Gospels is even something to be desired.

Of course, there are many Catholics who are not as learned as some of us who have gone to Catholic schools for 10 or more years, or who have joined Catholic renewal communities, and so on. And attending Catholic schools or renewal committies (or even joining a seminary, towards priesthood) doesn't necessarily make the best Catholic scholar. But if they have unacceptable practices (like they are actually praying to something else, and not anymore to God), then we're on the same boat. Those are also unacceptable practices in the Catholic tradition.

Today's Gospel presents that moment when Jesus was "taken up to heaven." (See Luke 24:46-53.) This moment, called the Ascension of Jesus into Heaven, is one of the basic beliefs in the Christian and Catholic faith.

The missalette publication, Sambuhay (Filipino for "Life as One"), today first talked about this "assault" on Christian Faith in general, in the form of "recent discovery" that "Jesus" was buried in the same tomb as his father "Joseph" and mother "Mary," and with his wife "Mary Magdalene" and their son "Judah." This then basically contested key elements of Christian faith: Jesus' resurrection and ascension, Jesus not being married nor becoming a father, and the assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary to heaven. Essentially, this was also indirectly attacking Jesus' divinity.

This "recent discovery" was featured as a documentary film in one popular cable TV channel, creating the impression that it was true and valid. Unfortunately again, most reputable historians and Christian or Biblical scholars alike have invalidated the study. But no one has made a documentary film about that.

Lessons learned?

First, let us study our own faith first. When we're down, when we're least prepared, and particularly when we're least prepared to answer questions about our own faith, that's when people from other religious practices swoop in and promise to take us to more abundant lands, and indeed they take us to these places, they show us how to be happy, and they tell us, "Look, you're happy because of God, you're happy even without practicing your Catholic beliefs." And yes, that might be true at that time. And that might be the reason why we join these other groups. I guess it's a leap of faith, but I don't see it as a leap for the better. Maybe there's nothing wrong, but it is not necessarily the more correct path.

Second, let us be responsible. Responsibility involves learning first - the first lesson learned I've mentioned above. But this also applies to when we are the ones in the position of educating others. This applies particularly when we are in the media, when we are public servants, when we are leaders, when we are parents, and so on. Sambuhay emphasized on the responsibility of the mass media to educate. It was them who made and featured the above-mentioned documentary film. But showing only a one-sided film is not responsibility. When we are parents, the way we act and speak makes a huge impact on our children. And so on.

A corollary of these lessons learned is what the priest at the mass I attended today said in his homily: when we know our faith, and when we have accepted responsibility, the next step is really to educate - or really, to evangelize. Bringing a fellow human being closer to God is a great act.

For many of us, there are more to learn. So let us learn. For what we know and what we will intentionally or unintentionally impart on others, let us be responsible.

site updating

and you may also notice a lot of links not yet working. the site is continuously being updated! check back soon! :D

Saturday, May 19, 2007

total overhaul

as you may have noticed, looks new! it is! enjoy and have fun!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

new thoughts

i posted a new thought at the thoughts blog. check out

How are you, Ronjie?

I asked this same question more than three years ago. In fact, that was exactly 3 years and 1 month ago.

Is there that kind of a cycle that happens in everyone's lives? That "roller coaster" thing about life? Of course, not everyone's life roller coasters are created equal; some have very high highs and very low lows, some have little highs and little lows. But that's beside the point. The point is I'm at a low right now.

And I just recently received my masters' degree three weeks ago, although I unofficially submitted all requirements 5 months ago. I haven't been employed for 24 months of the last 26.5 months. Does that have something to do with this?

Talk about LOST. I'm at an intersection of three major highways. Do I take Highway 1, Highway 2, or Highway 3? If I take Highway 1, do I take the northbound side or the southbound side? If I take Highway 2, do I take the eastbound or the westbound? If I take Highway 3, do I go northeast or southwest? Where do I go from here?

Suddenly, I don't believe in these graduate programs anymore. But I guess it's not that. Somewhere along the way, I sort of lost interest in what I'm doing, although it's something I'm good at, and it's something I've loved and still love doing. But I guess as you grow old, new priorities come up.

You might be playing basketball every Tuesday and Thursday night with your buddies, and it's something that you absolutely love doing. But when your mother becomes ill or when you get married or when you now have a child, you will need to alter your Tuesday and Thursday routines, and your life certainly will change drastically. But it's not to say that you don't love basketball anymore, or that you love basketball less, or that you don't like to spend that much time with your buddies anymore. It's just that, there are new cards that have been dealt on the table.

For those of you who might be getting ideas... No, my mother is not ill (thank God), I am not yet married nor getting married soon nor am I having any child within the next couple of years, adopted, unplanned, or otherwise.

So what's wrong? Don't get me wrong. I am not complaining. In fact, I think that having these numerous options in my career is such a big blessing. How many people in the world see only one option for their careers? I do believe we all have choices, we just need to see them. And here I am, I'm fortunate enough to have accepted the gift of sight. Now all I need is to know how to harness the power of the gift of wisdom and discernment.

So I believe that we all have these different gifts, and it's our choice if we'll use them or not. Of course, we might have been brought up by our parents in such a way that our brains automatically choose to not use a certain gift. For example, we may all have innate skills in entrepreneurship, but if we were brought up to study hard and get a safe and secure job with benefits, we might think being an entrepreneur is too risky.

Anyway, the point of this post is really, what do I wanna do? What should I do? I wish I have the answer right now. But I know I do, I just can't extract it from my mind just yet.

To do that, I planned on taking this exercise that I got the idea from Jim Collins' bestselling book, "Good to Great." By the way, it's a great book. (Reminder to self: post this also at the Coach Potato's Corner and create links to Amazon)

Anyway, Jim Collins talked about the "three circles" - three questions that executives of the "Good to Great" companies continuously asked themselves and their peers, and on which practically all their major decisions towards directing their business were based on. I am therefore looking at my individual self as an individual company, which I think is nothing new, although I do not recall if Jim Collins said that you could do something like that in his book.

Question 1
First is, What can you be the best in the world at? Oh, this answer is difficult to answer, but that is if by "world" we mean, the world. If the Philippines is my world, then sure. We have a few answers to that. Maybe even just one. I can be the best in the world in Structural Wind Engineering. I can also be the best in the world at English, or writing, or even in lecturing. Maybe I can write a book on Structural Wind Engineering, and practice and teach it also. So why not do those? See my response to the Question 2.

But, I can also be the best in the world at... business, or at software design and development, or at web design and development, and maybe a couple of other things, for as long as I will take time to study them. Oh, and I mean time. I'm looking at half a year at least upto one year to study any one of those, plus I'll need experience. In contrast, I have studied practically for 10 years to learn (some) Structural Wind Engineering and practiced practically 4-5 years of that whether in design or application, or in research.

Jim Collins also said something that struck me. He said something like, if I was very good in math let's say back in high school or in college, it does not mean that's what I could be the best in the world at. And that's precisely me. I was best in math, and best in physics back in high school. I was tutoring my classmates back then... Sure, there was passion there (see my response to Question 3). But is that really what I could be the best in the world at?

Unfortunately, I didn't know any better about what I really wanted to do, and so I somewhat accepted my parents' advice: study Civil Engineering. It made sense, I was good in math and physics, and engineering was about math and physics. Unfortunately also, I didn't know a thing about Civil Engineering, but yeah that's what I was going to college for. But no, what I meant was I don't know anything about the Civil Engineering profession. I didn't know they got paid less than people in other fields (this is true here and in other countries). And well, back then, I didn't know that I wanted more than what I could get from being a Civil Engineer. I just didn't know. So here I am.

Question 2
Question 2 is, What drives your economic engine? This question really means to ask, what thing, what single denominator has significantly coursed a company's growth and/or profitability towards previously unrealized highs?

I am stuck at this question, really. I do not know.

I used to look at this question to be similar to "What are your goals? What do you plan to achieve? What is your target monthly financial inflow?"
I'll be honest. I want to earn at least P180,000 a month if I have a family of four (me, wife, and 2 children). I started at ~5% of that, and in 6 years, I can make ~17% of that from a certain employment opportunity. That has been so far a 2%-of-target annual increase in income per year. At that rate, I can reach my goal... Oh about 40 years from now. [sarcasm on] Great, I'll only be 70 by that time. Not bad, some people retire at that age. [sarcasm off] But really, with the annual inflation rate between 5%-8% in that past 6 years - can you see how much poorer I've really been? One other problem is, that P180,000 now will only be worth around P25,600 in today's value 40 years from now at 5% annual inflation rate. So really, to be there, I should be earning P1,267,000 a month at the value 40 years from now.

Of course, the good thing is, I have been able to set my target monthly income. Not a lot of people have actually done that. They earn X a month and spend practically X a month. They get a raise and now earn 2X a month, and then spend practically 2X a month. That's not how I would like to be. Sure, I can choose to have just X a month for years, if I can reach my target of 700X a month in so many number of years.

Anyway, that's not the question. What could drive my income generating power? Do I go and stick it out with that structural/wind engineering job? Right now, that is my sole income generating power. It can bring in the dough month in and month out. The problem is, I won't be seeing Question 3.

Anyway, now the follow-up questions are: Should I just change my target? Or should I look at other things that could drive my economic engine? But if I go in that direction, what about Question 1? Do I try to change that? Should I study and be the best in the world at something? Can I create something, an invention maybe, that I could be the foremost expert in the world at? Ah, here goes the options again. But hmmm... Things are clearing up. If I invent something and it becomes very profitable for me - that would be the greatest thing. I like "creating" things. Inventing things. Improving things. Creating something from nothing. Making things move, making things work. Solving problems. Or just simply, providing solutions.

So that is the problem, how do I make something profitable? And can I create something that can be profitable? I guess this is the direction I should take. And it's probably the one thing that I could be the best in the world at. I will need to study though, how to make it profitable.

Or I can hire someone to do that for me. Or I can find a business partner who can make my idea profitable for the both of us. Gee, that really is the point.

Question 3
Question 3 goes, What are you deeply passionate about? Sure, I have some passion for math, for programming, for engineering, for saving lives. But those are my basketball passions. I now have my new-baby passion: earning money.

By the way, I hope you don't look at me as some very money-hungry, very greedy guy. I do intend to donate to charity a significant portion of what I will earn. In fact at my target monthly income, I can donate four homes a year to four very poor families. That is still small, but if I do exceed my target monthly income, then I can give even more, because I do not intend to live a life much more luxurious than what my target monthly income can give me.

And again, it's not that I don't love my basketball. It's just that, I have aged. I have a new passion, which I did not see coming when I was younger.

Once I have found my economic driver, which also actually drives what I am deeply most passionate about at the moment, then I can address my other, basketball passions. And what am I the best in the world at? Thinking. Creating ideas. Creating solutions. And so on. And perhaps that's why I've been good at engineering.

Do I now have my answer to my original question - "How are you, Ronjie?"

Jim Collins also said that companies also ask "What am I not the best in the world at?" Right now, business and entrepreneurship and networking are things I am not the best in the world at. So I guess that's why I should find someone who is. After all, it's the WHO that should come before the WHAT.

So that's the question I should be asking... Who? With whom?


Anyway, how about throwing this back into the mix: I haven't worked for 24 months in the past 26.5 months! I need money, now! That's the problem... I guess that's the answer to the question, "How are you, Ronjie?": "I don't have income right now."

Monday, May 7, 2007

Who is Ronjie now?

I took that "test" back in April 20 (see earlier "Who is Ronjie now?" post). I took it again today, and I got the same results. Cool! Wala lang. :-D

Visited countries!

Countries I've visited! But actually, I've been on only 3 states in the US, just at the US-Mexico border in California, and only in Hong Kong in China...

create your own visited countries map
or vertaling Duits Nederlands

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Old age

"Old age is not a license to disregard the law or the requirements of decent behavior toward others," a man said talking about an 80-something granny who was convicted for harrassing her neighbors, for shouting at them and "beating them up" with her walking stick.

There is this place I know where I've seen this violated time and time again - people in their old age getting or actually demanding extra special treatment, at the expense of other people. Those in their old age usually refer to one of the Ten Commandments, "Honor your father and your mother." Or for whatever they do, they might "request," "Can you forgive an old man (or lady)?"

Friday, May 4, 2007

Jesus' claim as God (Part 1)

[sub-labels: Christian and Catholic Faith, Jesus as God]

This is part of the "Jesus as God" series in the R+R (reactions+reflections) blog. It seeks to identify passages in the Bible, particularly in the New Testament, wherein Jesus himself is either directly or indirectly claiming to be God, or one with the Father, or where other personages identify him as our "Lord." The collection of these passages may establish a fundamental tenet of the Christian and Catholic faith.*

One way of showing how Jesus is God is by asking the question: is Jesus a Liar, a Lunatic, or our Lord? Is he a Liar; that is, he knows he is not God and yet he claims to be God and speaks and acts like he is God? Or is he a Lunatic; that is, he clearly believes he is God and is totally out of his mind to believe so? If he is not lying and he is sane, then is he for real, is he really the Lord?**

The Bible translation from which these passages are taken from is primarily the New American Version, or the New Revised Standard Version.***


This reaction+reflection is taken from the Gospel readings during Thursday's and Friday's Catholic mass (May 2 & 3, 2007), which is from John 14:1-14.

In this passage, Jesus says the following:
  • "You have faith in God; have faith also in me."
  • "In my Father's house, there are many dwelling places... if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be."
  • "I am the way, the truth, and the life."
  • "No one comes to the Father except through me."
  • "If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on, you do know him and have seen him."
  • "Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me? How can you say 'Show us the Father'?" in response to Philip asking him, "Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us."
  • "Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?"
  • "The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves."
  • "Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father."
  • "And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it."
In the second to the last item above, Jesus also speaks about the "works" that he does. These are obviously the miracles he has performed sometimes with thousands as witness. The question might be, is fulfilling miracles a sign of being God? It could be that Jesus himself was just simply calling out God's name so that these miracles are realized.

Jesus asks his disciples to just simply believe and have faith in him, because he says he is who he says he is, even without seeing the miracles he has performed. This is somewhat a call to all of us who has lived after Jesus' time, to all of us who has not seen Jesus himself in the flesh. He asks us to just believe in him, to believe in Jesus, that he is in the Father and that God the Father is in him, and because it is him; it is Jesus.

If they can't do that, if we can't do that, to just simply believe in him because he asks us to believe in him, then we should all just look at the many miracles he has performed. The list is long, and these shall be defined in a different series (i.e. the "Jesus' miracles" series).

And then Jesus tells his disciples - including us - that we all could perform these miracles if only we ask it in Jesus' name.

Questions you can ask for your own reaction+reflection are:
  • Why did Jesus say these things? Who is Jesus Christ? Is he a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord?
  • Have I called upon Jesus' name in prayer for a certain miracle, whether for myself or for others? What happened?
  • Have I read enough about the Bible, its origins, and its many different versions? Is it accurate? Is the translation accurate? How do I look at the Bible?
  • Have I read enough in the Bible, including the Old Testament? Have I identified passages there that might refer to Jesus as the Messiah?

I welcome all reactions, comments, suggestions, corrections, and critiques, good or bad. Please post them here, or contact me by email.


* Later on whether in this series or in another series, a reaction+reflection on why Catholics and some Christian groups alike refer to the Bible as truth, and how it is not the only truth, shall be discussed.
** Note that in earlier versions of the Bible and also in other Christian writings, pronouns referring to God and Jesus are capitalized: e.g. "He", or "Him." However, in more recent publications of the Bible and more recent Christian writings, this is deemed as not necessary anymore. Of course, it is also not wrong to still use the capitalized pronouns. The words Lord and God are still capitalized when referring to the Lord, our God.
*** Other translations/versions of the Bible are thought to be written such that they expressly do not show Jesus to be God, or some other commonly held dogma in Christian and Catholic faith. A reaction+reflection on this issue shall perhaps be posted in the future.

new reaction+reflection

i have a new post at my reactions+reflections blog. check it out!

Thursday, May 3, 2007