How Do You Make God Known to Others? (subtitle: Reflections from a Toxic Dinner)

My thoughts exactly while ironing clothes today. Christians believe that it is their calling to proclaim the Gospel to everyone, especially to the non-believers. However, if you were speech-impaired, and hence you could not quote your favorite verses, how do you make known God to a blind person, who can neither read manuscripts nor see sacramentals? (I am not implying though that uttering biblical passages and using sacramentals are the best ways of proclaiming the Good News.)

Last week, I spent some time with a long-time friend, whom I had not seen for quite a while. Religion was never an issue between us, until probably our last dinner. She called a man by the devil’s name only because he, who wants to marry her sister, does not belong to her religion. She has never approved of the relationship (she does not have to, really) until the boyfriend converts to their church, which she believes he would never do. The sister, by the way, is 30 years old (Heart, is that you?). Their mother, my friends shared, welcomed the man into her daughter’s life because “he is a decent person”. Evidently, as far as my friend was concerned, only one of them (he or she) could be in their family so, for over a year now, she has cut her ties with the rest of them. My friend justified her actions, explaining that she even asked the elders of their church for advice–they were all supportive of her.

That night, too, just how many times did she express “bakit ba dumadami na ang mga bakla at tomboy ngayon?” That would have been a good empirical question, had she not said it with disgust. Of course, I did not take her statement sitting down. When our discussion reached the basic human rights–and I asserted that every LGBT member is entitled to them–she argued “basta, lalaki at babae lang ang ginawa ng Diyos. Yun ang natural.” I could not help but counter, “Bakit, anduon ka? E sino gumawa ng mga taong ipinanganak na hindi usual ang counts ng chromosomes at hormones? What could be more natural than being born with that?” Then I asked if she knows a gay person, as in really knows him or her and what he or she goes through in life, she answered “Oo, madami. Sabi nila hindi daw nila choice yun…yun daw talaga ang nararamdaman nila. Pero hindi, choice talaga ng tao yan. Kung ipinanganak man silang ganun, huwag na lang silang makipagrelasyon.” I opted to bite my lips because at that point I thought it was the most civil (civilized?) thing to do.

Initially, I thought it was just her. But really, how many people share the same kind of thinking as hers?

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I need to detoxify.

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Two adjectives I find tricky: 1) humble, because when you claim it (“I am humble”) you lose it; and 2) judgmental, because once you use it (“you are judgmental”) you earn it.

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John 8

3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. (emphasis mine)

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“You are called like the apostles to make God known to others.” – St. John Baptist De La Salle. Today, April 7, is the Feast Day of St. John Baptist De La Salle.

I did not know this until later tonight.

*****

One cannot make known someone whom s/he does not know intimately, and flawed knowledge could make only but a distorted figure. Here’s a book that I highly recommend to those who, like me, are in search of the One:

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“As long as we have an all-male God, what happened to me will also happen to our culture and our church.” (Dennis Linn, p.41)

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