Faith: the only certainty

Very interestingly, I heard that a priest proffered in his homily a scientific explanation for the miracles recorded in the Bible. The first was when a soldier pierced the side of Jesus and water came out. The priest had said that there is a vessel (I cannot remember what biological term he used) beneath the heart which sometimes fills itself with water. And it just so happened that the spear tip punctured that vessel and water spilled out. It was no miracle; only a subtlety of science. The second was of the multiplication of the 5 loaves and 2 fishes. The priest had reasoned that perhaps the people present, having witnessed the kindness of Jesus, took out from their pockets and bags bread loaves and fishes of their own. Again, the miracle is demoted to no more than a fallacy of exclusion.

Obviously, this is dangerous; for it questions the very foundations upon which the Catholic church is built. Those miracles are what give believers hope and by saying all that, one is essentially depriving them of hope. I shall not go further into the multitude of consequences this may spell since my intrigue lies elsewhere from the obvious.

My intrigue lies in the character of the priests whom preached those explanations, whether carelessly or intentionally. If they can believe those scientific explanations, what happens to their belief in miracles? One naturally expects that priests have the utmost faith in the scriptures and take these reason-defying acts as interventions of God. But having brought in those arguments implies only the contrary. This then leads us to wonder if they have trouble believing in anything else, or everything else, that the scriptures have revealed. The Eucharist too perhaps? That would be most irreverent and appalling.

But we cannot fault them in any righteous way, since they too are human; curious and disposed to comprehension. No matter how much faith a person may bear in the truth of the scriptures, there will always linger a certain doubt. For how can we, as the reasonable people we are, believe, wholeheartedly, without the slightest strand of suspicion, in what lies so distantly behind the veil of time? Not to sound blasphemous, but suppose someone from that faraway past had falsely recorded, excited with mischief, some terrorizing of the land by malign monsters. Had that been the case, might we also believe in those monsters as we do now in the scriptures? After all, what miracles are to the reality, monsters are to observable nature. Again, I mean no disrespect at all to the church. I only wish to place reason behind our human suspicion.

This is why there is always a danger in believing the scriptures to be factual accounts rather than drawing from its essence. It must be understood that in faith, factuality is unimportant. What is factual is confined solely to the human realm. But faith, faith is above all. It should matter little whether the accounts of the scriptures were in fact true, for if we have faith in God, all we shall need is the essence of what has been revealed; be they inspired truths or mischievous lies. Everything that has been delivered to us by God will serve the construction of our lives, just as all experience serves the shaping of our characters. Faith seems to be the only certainty in life.

Of camps I never knew

Had I chosen to not go for the camp, as so tempted I was by a dissenting voice within, I might never have learnt how dearly these camps meant to some people.

I have never enjoyed camps. And even when I did, it wasn’t because of some emancipative effort of the camp’s programs but rather simply the friends with whom I could have fun. I hence saw little point in such camps other than the bonds of friendship they breed. So naturally, when I was asked to help out in one such similar camp, I was reluctant. In agreeing, I would only have acquiesced to the fulfilling of a responsibility. The desire to actually serve would be lacking.

Then on one of the nights, I spoke to a friend whom seemed distressed by the general lackluster of the camp’s organizing committee (though not by every team). He lamented how in past, when he was a participant, there always seemed to be an air of camaraderie, a closeness of the team, as if it were really one big, loving family. Yet now, some of the teams were unmotivated. They carried out their duties bounded by heavy shackles; zeal lacking, heart distracted, motive translucent. Immediately, I felt guilty. Did I not agree to this without that all-important willingness, and did I not peruse the schedule in the manner of a book-keeper leafing dreadfully and wearily through the day’s sales record?

I realized then how selfish I had been in being this childish self. Though I may not possess the greatest ardor, the least I could do was to be serious about what was tasked to me. And though those tasks may not seem to me to be of tremendous importance, it was no good reason for me to slump myself against a wall and murmur apathetically, palpably apathetically, towards the final sentence. I realized that my task was not solely an expression of my willingness but rather a puzzle piece which if carved well, will form with the rest a magnificent painting. And if I, in all my persistence, refused to carve well that small piece, then the painting would never be completed, and I would’ve single-handedly ruined it for everyone else whom had devoted their time and labor to the camp. I had ruined it for my friend. And it was unfair that I should be allowed to live so selfishly.

Strangely enough, I had prayed early on in the camp that God would turn this seemingly insipid experience into something fruitful. But secretly, I convinced myself that nothing was going to come out it since I have been to so many and not once was I touched in a measurable manner. And sure enough, God answered. Here is my lesson which I shall resolve to take along with me when I volunteer again to serve.

I guess I too have to thank that friend for enlightening me in an area which, in my cold, clouded world of reason, I could never have seen.