The Place of God-A A +A
Thursday, October 4, 2012
DURING my childhood I learned from my parents that God is our Father in heaven. Heaven is his place.
When I went to the seminary, I studied Latin and Greek and from the Roman and Greek poets and writers I learned that their world view is polytheistic. For them, all the elements of the world are attached to a particular god or goddess. They are polytheists.
Later when I studied theology, I knew from Church doctrine that there are seven sacraments but I realized that in fact there are many more sacraments. If you know that a sacrament is a symbol that contains and gives divine grace, then I realized that the whole world is one great sacrament, a symbol that contains God himself who gives himself to the world and mankind. So the place of God is the world, the universe.
The Buddhist again have another world view. Their God is the Nirvana, i.e. nothingness. But Buddha himself has said also: ‘If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.’
When I came to the Philippines, I met the tribal Filipinos who talk to the trees, to the Spirits in the trees. For them, nature, the environment is sacred because it is full of spirits. I noticed also that the Filipinos have a strong devotion to the saints, especially for the Blessed Virgin, whom they feel are present all around them. In a childlike manner they speak of Mary as ‘Mama’ Mary. This is a faith that we have to integrate in our everyday life. Spirituality is an ongoing life project. Its ultimate purpose is life integration.
When Pope Benedict XVI said, ‘The New Evangelization needs adults who are mature in the faith and witnesses of humanity’, he meant exactly this that we as Christians have to outgrow our naïve and narrow-minded faith-life we were brought up with and open our eyes for what is going on in the world.
We may not practice our faith in a vacuum. One example is that we easily make a dichotomy between heaven and earth. But they are one and the same, the place where God is present.
Another example is that we must find harmony between our faith and science.
In one of my previous columns, I have made the observation that science has discovered that the history of the universe is 13.7 billion years old and the earth 4.5 billion. We must bring this in connection with the biblical story of salvation history. We have to insert the two stories into each other. Then the story of Adam and Eve, being our first parents, and the story of their fall into sin, the so called Original Sin, are clearly a myth. Adam and Eve never existed on this planet. Paradise was not lost because of their fall into sin. This does not mean that there is no truth in these stories. There is a ‘mythical’ truth but not a historical truth in them.
With mythical truth I mean a spiritual truth. The spiritual truth is that God created the world in the beginning as perfect but imperfection came into the world when man refused and failed to cooperate with God the Creator. Up to this time, all of us are part of that failure to cooperate with God’s plan. If you realize that, then this may become an additional incentive to work harder in order to make this world a better place to live in for all of us as brothers and sisters. Then this world becomes a real place where God is alive, where God lives.
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Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on October 04, 2012.