Fernando: Faith and knowledge


I HAVE observed that when priests give homilies today they give the context of the readings first before they explain the supposed meaning or message of these Bible readings. I am not sure if all priests do the same but where I attend my Sunday obligation, this has become the norm.

This is a change from the traditional way of giving homilies where priests directly give their sermon without explaining a little background of the readings. The Church must have realized the importance of knowledge to faith.

There was a time when evangelizers just tell people to believe in God because there is God. They do not mind to explain why they should believe. They only tell people that believing or having faith leads to salvation. Or join this religion because it is the true religion.

Everybody practices the faith and others must therefore practice the same. As a result, many were baptized in the Catholic Church without enough understanding of the teachings. Well, it is impossible for an infant to learn these teachings at their age but they must be informed as soon as they reach the age of reason. Many baptized Catholics before, even now, understand faith as believing to whatever the clergies say.

They do not raise question. Faith is all a matter of bowing to the Church and doing whatever the priests command. This was not all wrong considering that priests spent many years in studying theology but the problem here is that the personal aspect of relating to God is lacking.

Many of the baptized Catholics today lack knowledge of the basic doctrines of the Church. Others find it hard to argue the significance of Mary the mother of Jesus, to our faith. This is the result of the idea before that knowledge was a threat to the faith. They do not want people to raise questions and seek God in their own way. The Church and religion were offered as the only venues to understand God. Questioning the Church was a considered heresy and sacrilege or an opposition.

The period of enlightenment in the 16th century indeed gave birth to Protestantism yet it should be noted that this movement was born not so much due to the opposing views of the founders on Church’s doctrines but more so on the abuses of the Church administration. I based this writing based on the situation before documented in books not on Duterte’s views on the Church today.

Knowledge therefore does not hinder faith but it further deepens it. People who have knowledge on the humanity of Jesus or the history of the Church tends to have a deeper faith than those who do not have knowledge on them. Many Catholics today recite the creed during the celebration of the mass but they are not aware that the creed states the focal points of our faith. I wonder if many Catholics can answer what the Trinity doctrine is all about. Without knowledge, faith is shallow.

I have Master’s degree in religious education but I admit I have yet to burn eyebrows to familiarize the teachings of the Church. I cannot fully explain the doctrine of trinity or the subject of eschatology or the second coming of Christ to a wondering child or to an arguing adult.

People can always say they have a deep faith in God but it is good to know how this faith came to be. Faith may lead us to believe in the overwhelming love of God to the people like giving us protection and blessings. Yet there are times when we lost faith when we lost our loved ones because we only know God as the source of happiness. When we encounter problems, we attribute it to the doings of God. When speaking of faith, we should have at least knowledge on the story of Job. He lost all that he had. Everything that he had was gone and still he clung to God. It was faith and knowing this story gives us knowledge on the love of God which further affirms our growing faith.

Just last Sunday, the priest began his homily in explaining the Christmas season as part of the liturgical calendar. He greeted as “Merry Christmas” because as he explained last Sunday was the last day of Christmas. I did not know it and I was happy to learn it. This is the age of reason and it will help us grow and deepen our faith when we know things about the story of Jesus, his humanity, the story of the Church, or how it came to be. Knowledge serves as the foundation of our faith and without we can get lost so easily.


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