Sunday, November 30, 2008

God of the Poor

Learnt some new things last night at BLC where I listened to Fathers Jojo Fung (see my short write-up on him) and Joseph Ng share on liberation theology and God's heart for the poor in Asia:
  1. Jesuit priests can be distinguished by at least 3 characteristics, a) gritty casualness in dressing, b) profound depth of theological reflection and c) striking gentleness and calmness in responding to criticism/objections

  2. There are some truly remarkable missionaries cum thinkers cum religious symbioticians in the Roman Catholic faith, and Aloysius Pieris stands tall among them.

  3. One unique path to deeper spirituality with God may be to drop all of one's pre-conceptions of God and take a plunge into new baptisms (or allowing oneself to be initiated) into other faith-communities (Pieris into Buddhism, Fung into Shamanism, etc.). "To the Jew, one becomes a Jew. To the Gentile, one turns Gentile. To the pagan, a pagan" - so that all avenues are covered in the work of salvation (1 Cor 9:20-23) and that one gains a fresh experience of the spiritual universe?

  4. John 14:6 - "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life" -, traditionally used to proof-text the 'exclusivity of Christ for salvation' may be less a soteriological 'How To' and more of a Christological 'Trust-Me"(!). Brian McLaren explains the different perspective, although (no doubt) some disagree.

  5. The human knee-jerk reaction of avoiding hardship suffocates the impulse to be in solidarity with those experiencing hardship. The active alleviation of suffering and oppression, therefore, may be inseparable from the choice of experienced suffering. 

  6. Restating 5), 'going barefoot, i.e. voluntary poverty, helps puts us in touch with those for whom being bare-foot isn't an option. 'Taking off' our shoes is a way of putting ourselves 'in' the shoes of the poor.

  7. The famous question from Jesus, "Who do you say I am?" (Matthew 16:13-15) should be posed to the poor, with serious Christological and missiological consequences i.e. who Christ is and what the Church's calling should be could take serious turns if we listen carefully to the poor's view of Jesus, regardless of their formal faith-confessions.

  8. The poor reflect the kingdom of God because they form the loci of Jesus' actions and very presence i.e. in a way reminiscient of the Church being one with the Body of Christ (Acts 26), the poor are paradoxically 'equated' with Jesus (Matthew 25:45).


Alex Tang said...

some challenging thoughts. Alwyn.

alwyn said...

i was hoping there could be more interaction about liberation theology, but - unsurprisingly - the Q&A focused more on the (non)reconciliability of Father Jojo's and Pierie's 'immersion' into other faiths.

it would be nice to meet Pieries, methinks.

Bob K said...

Pretty telling about where our "concerns" are, eh?