PITSTOP: TEACHING IN PARABLES (from Jesus: A Gospel)

TEACHING IN PARABLES (from Jesus: A Gospel)

Jesus as Storyteller

First of all, let’s keep in mind the context in which Jesus tells the parables, like the story of the “man who had two sons.” Luke writes: “The tax collectors and sinners… were all crowding around to listen to him, and the Pharisees and scribes complained saying: ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’” They put his legitimacy as a teacher in question by criticizing his closeness to sinful people. In response Jesus tells his critics the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son.

Jesus wants to make it clear that the God of whom he speaks is a God of compassion who joyously welcomes repentant sinners into his house. To associate and eat with people of ill repute, therefore, does not contradict his teaching about God, but does, in fact, live out this teaching in everyday life. If God forgives sinners, then certainly those who have faith in God should do the same. If God welcomes sinners home, then certainly those who trust in God should do likewise. If God is compassionate, then certainly those who love God should be compassionate as well. The God whom Jesus announces and in whose name he acts is the God of compassion, the God who offers himself as example and model for all human behavior.

But there is more. Becoming like the heavenly Father is not just one important aspect of Jesus’ teaching, it is the very heart of his message. The radical quality of Jesus’ words and the seeming impossibility of his demands are quite obvious when heard as part of a general call to become and to be true sons and daughters of God.

As long as we belong to this world, we will remain subject to its competitive ways and expect to be rewarded for all the good we do. But when we belong to God, who loves us without conditions, we can live as he does. The great conversion called for by Jesus is to move from belonging to the world belonging to God.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What is the gospel/good news being communicated by the quote above?
  2. What am I being called to do after hearing this gospel/good news?

Post your reflections by leaving a reply.

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Baptism and Temptation Reflection

Baptism and Temptation (from Jesus: A Gospel)

Becoming the beloved means letting the truth of our belovedness become enfleshed in everything we think, say, or do. It entails a long and painful process of appropriation or, better, incarnation.

Affirmation as the Beloved

I very much believed that the core moment of Jesus’ public life was the baptism in the Jordan, when Jesus heard the affirmation, “You are my beloved on whom my favor rests.” That is the core experience of Jesus. He is reminded in a deep, deep way of who he is. The temptations in the desert are temptations to move him away from that spiritual identity. He was tempted to believe he was someone else: You are the one who can turn stone into bread. You are the one who can jump from the temple. You are the one who can make others bow to your power. Jesus said, “No, no, no. I am the Beloved from God.” I think his whole life is continually claiming that identity in the midst of everything. There are times in which he is praised, times when he is despised or rejected, but he keeps saying, “Others will leave me alone, but my Father will not leave me alone. I am the beloved Son of God. I am the hope found in that identity.”

 

REFLECTION POINTS:

  1. Who am I? What is my calling? What is God’s will for me?
  2. How have my decisions in fighting off or in cooperating with temptation, led me further or closer to my calling or God’s will?
  3. What can I do today to do God’s will more closely?

On Childhood by Henri Nouwen (from the book, “Jesus: A Gospel”)

God says, “I love you with an everlasting love,” and Jesus came to tell us that. We are the Beloved, not because we did anything, not because we proved ourselves. Basically, God loves us whatever we do. If that’s true, these few years that we are in the world, we are sent to say, in the midst of our life, “Yes, God, I love you, too.”

Just as God cares for us, it’s very important that we care for God in the world. If God is born like a little baby, God cannot walk or speak unless someone teaches God. That’s the story of Jesus, who needs human beings in order to grow. God is saying, “I want to be weak so you can love me. What better way to help you respond to my love than becoming weak so you can care for me?” God becomes a stumbling God who falls at the cross, who dies for us, and who is totally in need of love. God does this so we can get close. The God who loves us is a God who becomes vulnerable, dependent in the manger and dependent on the cross, a God who basically is saying, “Are you there for me?”

On Answering Essay Tests

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Based on observation and experience, teachers and students continue to not see eye-to-eye when it comes to answering essay test items. Because our class will be using essay test items in its assessments, allow me to clarify and set my expectations.

FAITH IS REASONABLE

Many still have the notion that CLE is synonymous to good manners, superficial reverence to deity, and right conduct. However, I would like to clarify that that is not simply the case. In its entirety, CLE is still an academic subject that discusses academic terms and concept which assert that faith is reasonable. We would never teach you something that goes against your human nature to think. Faith runs in a particular logic that is different from the logic of science. Just like in reading literature, we need to understand how faith is “written” so that we’ll understand its intended message.

INFORMED OPINIONS

In any subject that solicits for your opinion, don’t just write what you think WITHOUT aligning your answer to the lessons discussed in class. Your answers might be sound and logical, but if they don’t resemble any ideas or concepts from the previous discussions, they’re useless. The assessment is after all a way for us to gauge if you understood what was discussed. Keep in mind that when answering essays CITE concepts and ideas FROM THE LESSONS.  We didn’t spend all that time discussing about particular concepts if we’re not going to use it in the exam.

With that, I hope that this short post helped clarify some confusion. The reason why we give essays as test items is because we’re not after rote memory but understanding. We want you to use what you know outside of the classroom. The real world is the ultimate assessment. While you’re still in school, and in our care, we will do everything to prepare you to face a world that does not have the benefit of a correction tape. The last thing we want to happen is to find you lost and confused in this big and noisy world.

Good day, gentlemen!

Image taken from: http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7024/6450248903_8dfc0bfb27_z.jpg

5 Tips to a Good Confession

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Yesterday I heard confession and I read this guide that helped me really appreciate this sacrament. I like it so much I’m willing to type word per word of the guide for your benefit! It has Jesuit ring to it so I’m sure you’ll enjoy!

5 Tips For A Good Confession

Often people complain that when they go to confession they seem to say the same things every time. They end up listing off the same sins that they have been confession for years. They know that they have not made as good a confession as they should, but they are not sure how to prepare properly to celebrate the sacrament. So they begin to feel frustrated and wonder what’s the point.

Here are five tips to help you make a good confession. Follow all five, and not only will you avoid the old “shopping list” approach to the sacrament, you will develop a deeper appreciation of what it is all about.

1.) REFLECTION. Begin not by thinking about your own life but about the life and words of Jesus. It is good to have a standard against which to measure our life and the kind of people we are. Jesus provides that standard for us Christians. It is his life and words which give meaning to our own. So, before going to confession, spend a little time thinking about Jesus, the kind of person he was, the attitudes and values he had, the things he did, the way he treated others. Think of what Jesus has to say to us today, and to our world.

2. EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE. Having looked at Jesus’ life, now take time to look at your own. Here is an examination of conscience which may help you to look more closely at the serious issues in your life and where you have failed in living out your gospel calling. It is a kind of check list against which to measure how your life as a Christian is going. Every time before you go to confession, spend a little while checking out these questions.

What kind of Christian an I in:

a. My Relationship with God:

  • Do I give time to God?
  • Do I attend Mass regularly?
  • Do I pray every day?

b. My Home Life:

  • What am I like to live with?
  • Do I make my home happy?
  • Am I selfish or moody?
  • Do I cause serious problems in my home—through abusing drugs or alcohol, bullying, being violent, or lazy?

c. My Relationships with Others:

  • Am I tolerant of and unselfish towards others?
  • Am I kind to others, in word and deed?
  • Is there any person against whom I hold a grudge of whom I resent?
  • Do I pray for those who hurt me, and forgive them?

d. My Practice of Justice:

  • Do I respect the needs, rights and property of others?
  • Am I honest in my dealings with others?
  • Do I pay my debts?
  • Do I work to the best of my energies and abilities?
  • Do I cheat, steal or make false claims?

Remember that God isn’t interested in how good a memory you have, or how many failings you discover in yourself. It is impossible to recall every fault and failing. God knows that. All God asks is that you come before him genuinely sorry for those times when you have failed him and failed the community. And his love and his forgiveness will restore you even if you don’t say a word.

3. CONFESSION. When you go to the priest, it is customary to tell him how long it is since your last confession, and any particular things about the circumstances of your life which may be helpful for him to know. For example, whether you are in college, or living at home, whether you are married etc. When you confess your sins, there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Just mention those areas of your life where you have failed, and always remember that the focus is on God and God’s loving forgiveness, rather than on you and your sins. How you confess is not nearly as important as that you confess.

4. FORGIVENESS. After giving a suitable penance, the priest will ask you to say the Act of Contrition or Sorrow. It is a chance for you to formally declare your sorrow before God and to ask his help in trying to live a more Christian life, in the future. The priest then speaks Christ’s words of forgiveness. Make sure to listen to what he is saying. All those sings that have weighed you down have been washed away. Perhaps you remember The Corr’s hit song of some time ago: Forgiven; Not Forgotten. Well, it is different with our God. He not only forgives, he forgets too. Through the person of the priest, God allows you to hear that your sins are forgiven. Through the words of absolution, God makes you whole again.

5. SHARING. God has forgiven you. But your celebration of the sacrament of forgiveness does not end when you come out of the confession box or leave the church. The sacrament is completed only when you return to your family and friends and share the forgiveness you have received. Because God forgives you, you must forgive others. Your celebration of the sacrament must lead you to offer God’s forgiveness to others–those who hurt you, or let you down, those whose lives intersect with yours. It must make a difference to your life.

Act of Sorrow (or Contrition)

People use several different acts of contrition when they go to confession, but this is the one commonly used by young people today. It is short and beautiful:

O My God, I thank you for loving me. I am sorry for all my sins, for not loving others and not loving you. Help me to live like Jesus, and not to sin again. Amen.

DISCLAIMER: I did not compose this. I simply copied it. There was no author in the guide thus, you may refer to this as: “5 Tips For A Good Confession” by Redemptorist Church, Queen’s Rd, Cebu City 6000, Philippines.

Image taken from: http://pinterest.com/pin/157414949446213026/