Saturday, September 20, 2014
Short Reflection for the 25th Sunday of the Ordinary Time (A)
Readings: Isaiah 55: 6-9; Philippians 1: 20-24; Matthew 20: 1-16
Text: “Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?” (Matthew 20: 14-15)
Meditation: Heaven is NOT the fruit of our merit… It is the fruit of God’s mercy and generousity. We do not fault God for being generous and all-inclusive, which is, saving all… Do we?
DHIKR SIMPLE METHOD
Dhikr is an Arabic word which means REMEMBRANCE.
1st step: Write the text in your heart.
2nd step: Let the text remain always in on your lips and mind - RECITING the text silently as often as possible...
3rd step: Be attentive to the disclosure of the meaning/s of the text in your life.
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Short Reflections for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross – Sept. 14th
Readings: Numbers 21: 4-9; Philippians 2: 6-11; John 3: 13-17
Gospel Passage: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (John 3: 16)
Meditation: Jesus, in the cross, fully revealed God’s universal salvific love. The cross is a powerful symbol of the self-expenditure of Jesus, because of his great love for us. Yes, it is by his self-expenditure in the Holy Cross that we have been redeemed…”
The cross also invites us to offer our lives for others that they may have life to the full…
Saturday, September 06, 2014
Thursday, September 04, 2014
THE LEGACIES AND HOPES OF CHRISTIAN-MUSLIM ENCOUNTERS
by Fr. Eliseo R. Mercado, OMI
Notre Dame University - Graduate School
I recently attended for the second time the United Nations Alliance of Civilization Confab or UNAOC in Bali Indonesia last August 28, 29, AND 30, 2014. I was part of the delegation of the Universal Pea e Federation that invited me to be a member of the panel in the high level talks on Interreligious Dialogue for Peace.
I thought of sharing some of my reflections on the Legacies and Hopes in the Christian - Muslim encounters through the ages...
One that is easily observable is the lingering resentments and injustices that are deep in the psyche of relationship between Christians and Muslims. With some exceptions, there is no mutual openness between faiths, but only survival within supercession, and the steady accumulation of the instinct by which both faith communities have developed a sort of exclusivism of culture and identity around their inner focus of faith and rite drawing all things into a calculated otherness and reciprocity from which we now struggle so hardly to escape.
The legacies of the past are still alive. They remind the living of the bitter encounters between Christians and Muslims. In some instances, these legacies are enshrined in the living traditions, though mostly ceremonials and rituals, they continue to enslave the present day consciousness that prevents both the Christians and the Muslims to embark into new relationships of trust and brotherhood. Simply to cite some examples:
1. The memory of historical supercession of Christian faith in the East and North Africa by Islam in the 7th and 8th Century, the heartland of Tertullian, Cyprian and Augustine, that continues to live in the Titular Bishoprics.
2. The calligraphy of the grand Mosque, the Haran al-Sharif in Jerusalem (The first and many believe still the finest) is about Jesus as if serving notice by its splendor and motifs that the Holy City and its church of the resurrection now have a permanent presence in sharing its skyline and landscape.
3. 'Isa vs. Yasu' - one and yet not the same. The duality of the names deepens into the stress and tension of the prophet/saviour dichotomy, of the non-incarnational and the incarnational understanding of Christ’s person and significance.
4. The Qur’an disallows the suffering and death on the cross of Jesus and with it the elimination of the Eucharist and the whole structure of Christian worship, as well as the whole theological form of Christian faith.
5. The long tradition of Islam tolerance of the church and its faith in terms of a freedom to remain only, and not the freedom to recruit.
6. The “dhimmi” status of the Christian minorities - Freedom of movement of belief within the Islamic Empire was only into Islam.
7. The crusades...More recently the situation has been more embittered by the Christian involvement in that Western dominance of Muslim peoples politically and economically which Islam sees as a kind of aberration from the true course of Islamic history where power must always be in the hands of Muslims.
All the above legacies are familiar enough and part of our problem. Is it simply escaping from their tyranny over our spirits? Thus, we have steadily to school ourselves to resist and reject our habit of preferring suspicion to trust; Instinct to prefer familiar confrontation to venture into new relationship. Why? Is it because despite these legacies of enmity and otherness, there are fascinating areas of common spiritual territory within a simple religious ancestry? Islam and Christianity, for all their historical antipathy, have profound community in truth. The quarrel between Islam and Christianity is squarely within a common ground of conviction about God and Man. Yet, there is often a strange affinity of thought inside these disputes! I cite few Examples:
1. S 4:172 declares "Messiah will never scorn to be servant to God" (Lan Yastankif al-Masih an Yakuna'abdan li-llah). The kindredness of thought here with Philippians 2:6-8 is striking: " Gave no consideration to a seizure, namely that he should be equal with God, but he emptied himself and took a slave form and came to be in the likeness of men (alla eauton ekenosen morphen doulou labon en homolomati anthropon genomenos).
Jesus does not hold "sonship "as a status at all cost to be preserved, clutched tight and jealously prized. On the contrary, sonship is fulfilled in being " of no reputation" and in "taking the form of a servant". In line with S.4: 172 " the Messiah does not scorn to be servant, and never would..."
S 4: 172 is made the ground of the view that, therefore Jesus-The Christ-servant, would never pretend to "Sonship". Clearly some pampered oriental sonship is in mind.
The denominator of servanthood is in common. But servanthood for Christian Tradition is the meaning of sonship but for Islamic tradition servanthood excludes sonship. The Christian reason for identifying "sonship" in Jesus -namely the will to self-expenditure is the reason for denying it! Thus Christianity and Islam are united, we might say, in differing.
2. S.57: 27: Be the followers of Jesus... in whose hearts God has planted "compassion and mercy". Then it goes in, rather abruptly: “as for monasticism, they invented it. We did not prescribe it for them", that entire God prescribed was ”the desiring of the pleasing of God" (ibtiga'a ridwan lillah).
This expression is very close to a basic New Testament idea most memorably expressed in the angels' nativity song about "men of good will". It means "men whose good pleasure, what they delight in, is the good pleasure of God, - What God delights in…"
This is the characteristic of Mary (LK 1:28) "of being highly favored” (kecharitomene) of the believers as Paul describes in Phil. 2:13 " God is always at work in you to make you willing and able to obey his own purpose".
Col. 1:10 " You will be able to live as the Lord wants and always do what pleases him." In Christian Tradition: Such "desire of divine pleasing", i.e., this "coinciding” of will whereby man obeys God is, precisely, the purpose of monasticism. True in its concrete and historical reality -- not all monasticism has been worthy of its meaning and vocation. But institutions, surely, must be understood and assessed, not in terms of their aberrations, but of their intentions (though, truly, then aberrations are within their responsibility)
In Islamic Tradition: as in 4:172, The Quran would appear to reject the institution while stating in a most memorable phrase, precisely what the institution is about. It decries and dismisses monasticism on behalf of that very direction of the soul, by self discipline, into the divine pleasing, which is what those " houses of prayer", admired and commended in S.24: 36, where divinely permitted to nurture and achieve.
Thus the ground of the censure that antagonizes is the truth that is shared. This is the point of citing those detailed instances. This situation is the characteristic of the whole range of Muslim/ Christian issues in their essence. The contra-Christian animus of Islam has Christian criteria and vice-versa. The Islamic reason for continuing Christian and the Christian reason for continuing Muslim. Concretely, this entails truly reckoning with what it is we mean when we say:
- " God is!"
- " God reigns!"
- " God loves!"
It is out of that conviction believed to be in history and experience, that the doctrinal formulation is derived. If doctrinal formulations are converted and contested as formulas prior to the mediation of the experiential meaning, we not only invite, or incite contention but we abandon the apostolic sequence of discovery and conviction.
What are the points of doctrinal formulas within the urgencies of our contemporary work? Is it, as some would say, a cerebral abstraction, an intellectual indulgence, a diversionary escapism, irrelevant to the harsh alternatives of war and peace, of poverty and malnutrition, of technology and alienated man? Are there not far more urgent problems of development, of economic imbalance, of commercial exploitation, weighing down humanity that makes such abstraction irrelevant or worse? Will dialogue achieve anything unless it is closely related to the "criticism of the earth" rather than the mysteries of heaven?
In our modern times, it is often said that religions divide. Maybe atheism, at least in operative terms, is what alone can unite us (secularity being the only option)? This option is neither Islamic/Christian. Why? To let man be man... we must let God be God! The problem lies in our credibility as believers. If believers are true and honest... the theology is inseparable from its concrete practical liabilities.
Islam has always understood itself amidst the world of Jahil as set for " Peace under God". It stood for a human order under the divine authority. On the other hand, Christianity has understood itself in that kenosis, i.e., the measures of the divine stake in our humanity in one who "does not scorn to be servant" - in the eternal son whose cross and passion redeemed us all.
(Note: I heavily borrowed from the works of Bishop Kenneth Cragg - the late Anglican Archbishop of Jerusalem for this reflection...)