Faith Development Introduction
To review, we talked about what God did with Jesus, how God is working today and
what is the call for us, us being together and the community. Christianity means being in
some kind of community. We believe that there is three “people” in one God, that we are
united by love in the community and that we must be a fulfilled human being with others
but it should be in love.
An example would be when Jesus, called as a “master,” gathered his friends around him.
Instead of being called “master,” he prefers being called a “friend.”
Another example is a vending machine. A vending machine has no feelings. You put
money into it, choose what you like and hopefully the transaction is completed. If not,
you’ll bang on it in frustration hoping that the item will drop. And if that fails, you leave.
You may come back but likely, you’ll depart never to return. Or we may find that when
we get to the machine, it has nothing we want so we also leave. The machine, though,
doesn’t care. It has no feelings. Its purpose is to serve our needs. Yet sometimes, we
treat people like machines. If we treat someone nice, we may just get what we want. On
the other hand, if we treat our friends as vending machines, there will be no more friends
to speak of.
God wants us to be different. He wants us to be in faith and have a friendship with each
other. Jesus is the center of the community where there is friendship, love and that “we
are there for the other person.”
There is also the commandment. If others find another in joy, weeping and consoling, the
other person is a commandment to the emotional person. A commandment aren’t real
rules but are a system related with people. For example, “Don’t eat meat” and other
reminders are there for respect and to remember a person not as a vending machine. In
the end, the person is the commandment.
Community => Church
Church: A gathering together for a purpose
Purpose: The purpose is God.
Image: The Church is the picture.
Marriage: A domestic church based on a permanent partnership with others added
“God likes your babies, not others.”
Q: If God is love, why does he punish those in the Old Testament?
A: Let’s not forget that the Bible is a collection of books. The books are a record of
progress for the people. So it is like taking a math textbook from 1st Grade and one from
10th grade. There is a large difference between the two so the books in between are used
to grow the knowledge. So the books don’t record what God said but what people said
about him. In the old Testaments, God was more of a person, which included emotions
like anger and wrath. Then he was presented as a King until the Christians believed that
God is love. As St. John said, “God is love.” He was the last to die and for now, was the
peak for our learning. So the Old Testament prepares for the New Testament while the
New Testament completes the Old Testament.
Q: You can’t say, though, that God punishes if God is love.
A: Remember the Cup Analogy1 where if we internalize the problem, where we are
punishing and hating ourselves, we are the ones putting ourselves in hell, not God. Or
how about the Earthquake in China example2? Whether it be in China, San Francisco or
Mexico City, things do happen in which we may have been able to mitigate the result but
in the end, suffering is a consequence.
Q: If we take an example of Noah, God allowed the Flood so does that violate the
A: If we were to take global warming as an example, it is entirely possible that Florida as
well as other coastal areas could be under water. Well, it could be SUVs with their
emissions that cause the Earth to heat and God let it melt. Why? People choose to use
the SUV and God lets it happen because people have a choice.
When talking about Noah, the flood was there to punish people but consider the
following. Noah built one amazingly large Ark. His neighbors visited and possibly came
to two conclusions: 1) Noah is one insane guy or 2) God actually told him to build a
humongous ark. So, when it comes to a case like this, it is easier to ignore the challenge
of building an ark. But of course, this tale should not be taken literally but it is used as a
great fable. The lesson is that we don’t want to hear God directly but indirectly through
others who hear. We must trust in God and trust in others. Had the other evil people
build boats, they could have been saved. And if you see a group of people running away
from something, do you join the rest of the people, which is a smart idea, or run to see
what is happening?
People often proclaim that Christians are crazy although they help others and are sinners.
They are crazy because they don’t act properly or correctly. However, people take the
easy way out if they do not need to change.
What about Moses and his crew?
Long ago, it would be perceived that God punishes you because you are bad. Then Jesus
came around and it changed. He did nothing and look at what happened with him.
Instead of being punished because you are bad, there is no real excuse to use as
compassion reigns. Thus, Jesus on the cross was out of compassion.
So read the Old Testament using human words for the interpretation since that section is
an interpretation of God and his story.
Bible Study I (9_12_08)
Bible Study I (10_3_08)
After perusing the internet, I found a good metaphor for Bible Study. Bible Study is like
a goldfish bowl.
The Goldfish Bowl
Note: Real life objects (fish, bowl, water, etc.) are less ugly than drawn here.
The Bible is the goldfish. What happens if there is a tank filled with water but there was
no fish in there?
“The bowl is probably for Feng Shui.[ 風水, 风水]”
“Uh... putting that aside... for now...”
The goldfish is the heart. It is the reason for having a tank full of water in the first palce.
The water is the tradition, for example, the stories, the history, the reasons and how it has
to be interpreted. The water adds the contexts to understand. Over all of this time, it is
most likely that someone has already asked something related to what you wanted to ask.
Now let’s say that someone decided to take the Bible (fish) out of context (water). I’m
pretty sure that the fish will die. And then there is the bowl which represents the church
itself. The bowl is hard and gives shape everything inside as it also makes sure to keep
the water from spilling everywhere. Together, all three are needed for the living system.
The Pope or tradition itself doesn’t replace the Bible as the Bible is the heart of it all. If
people ask about the Bible, you become their Pope in giving them tradition and shaping it
for them. You can read the Bible at home but it is good to keep the tradition as well.
Q: Why are there two creation stories?
A: The first creation story is actually a later version while the second one is an older
account. It has been recognized that the original texts are in different languages. Genesis
chapter two is the one with the ribs and such.
With the first tale, its origins were when the Jews were in exiled to Babylon where there
was a chance their connection to God may be severed. One way for them to keep that
relationship alive was to write down their story. Genesis chapter one is in this context.
Biblical Quote I
In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless
wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters.
Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
The Babylonians had a creation story as well, like other civilizations. Their story talked
about the world emerging from the chaos. The Bible, in contrast, had it so that God was
greater and bigger than the chaos and he was the one that made everything.
Biblical Quote II
Then God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered into a single basin, so that the
dry land may appear.” And so it happened: the water under the sky was gathered into its
basin, and the dry land appeared. God called the dry land “the earth,” and the basin of
the water he called “the sea.” God saw how good it was.
Since the sky and the water were the same color, the Babylonians were convinced that
they were living within a dome. And that the sky is God. Of course, the Bible writes that
the sky and the water were two separate parts.
Biblical Quote III
Then God said: “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky, to separate day from night.
Let them mark the fixed times, the days and the years, and serve as luminaries in the
dome of the sky, to shed light upon the earth.” And so it happened: God made the two
great lights, the greater one to govern the day, and the lesser one to govern the night;
and he made the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky, to shed light upon the earth,
to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. God saw
how good it was.
This isn’t just poetry. This would sound to the Babylonians that God made other Gods as
the sun and the moon were suppose to be deities as well. For the Bible, it would be that
God made the objects.
Also, back in the old days, people presumed to be made so that they could fight each
other. The Bible, though, had it so that the Hebrews would have God red on the seventh
day and they, as a people, rested as well. The Hebrews had faith, were stubborn and
refused to work, all culminating with preserving their identity.
So to summarize, the two creation stories have a difference in age, a difference in men
understanding women and two completely different contexts. Chapter two had humans
made right before the animals, which is opposite of what happened in chapter one. And
there is the fact that women were made as a helper in chapter two, which is different than
chapter one. And with chapter one, there is a parallel with the Babylonian creation story
to be able to see the contrasts between the two creation stories and belief systems.
Q: Was Genesis written based on another book?
A: It wasn’t written as it was more of an oral tradition. Most cultures could read or write
or didn’t have a system to do so. Thus, oral traditions were made and that was what was
Q: How is it that the Old Testament contains stories?
A: Most of it contains stories as they are suppose to show that some of these are
historical stories and others are morality fables.
If the story of Jonah and the whale started with, “once upon a time” you can be pretty
sure that is a fable. So don’t get too worked up over little red riding hood getting eaten
by a wolf. As such, the Hebrews had a method of expressing fables through the lines
they constructed and used. Thus, the tale of Jonah is a morality story.
Remember the story of the Fox who stumbled upon some grapes in a tree one day. And
That fox, ever so desiring those grapes tried any means necessary to be able to get those
grapes. It wasn’t until the fox, in all of his frustrations, decided to give up and not get the
grapes in which he proclaimed that those grapes were probably sour. So Jonah’s story is
moralistic like this.
So as the story of Jonah goes, God tell him to start prophesizing. Jonah has other plans.
He leaves on a boat, a storm hits and he gets a nice swim into the water where,
interestingly enough, the storm ceases. And Jonah gets eaten by a huge fish. A little bit
later, he repents, get barfed onto the shore and starts doing his job. The city he was
suppose to prophesize in, Nineveh is the equivalent of our modern day Las Vegas. So
you can image some pretty bad things were going down over there. It just so happens
that Nineveh takes about three days to cross. So, Jonah, on day one, starts his
prophesizing along the lines of, “Nineveh is doomed, everything and everyone here is
going to be destroyed in one month.” Then the darndest thing happened. The citizens of
Nineveh passed along what they heard to their friends throughout the city, everyone
repented and the city was spared by God. Jonah, though, was disappointed. He wanted
fireworks, he wanted that city destroyed. As a result, he started getting angry at God for
letting Nineveh get a second chance. The moral is, if someone changes their way, we
shouldn’t want to see them fail.
Noah? Well, that would be an example of where history and myth come together. Forty
days and forty nights? Fable. All the animals on a boat? Fable. Bird sent out, one that
returned with an olive branch? Fable and like the rest, also symbolic. The flood that
wiped out the people? Well, there is some idea that the Black Sea may be an origin for
the story. There use to be a time when the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea were
separated by one little piece of land. As the Ice Age passed and the frozen water returned
to the ocean, the water level rose. The Mediterranean reached a critical level and all the
excess water began to spillover into the Black Sea. Thus, a possible flood story which
became a morality story.
When we say we believe in the Bible, is that right?
We say it in the context to believe. If the Bible is a Holy Book, it is from the Holy Ghost
but we can still use the Holy Spirit and the Bible as moral sources for new issues that
arise, such as cloning. With God’s word, we can be lead to a whole package of
understanding. And then there are the fun parts, especially when we need that last piece,
that last word to solve a puzzle. For example, back to the Barabbas, it is made up of:
Bar: Son of
So when Barabbas and Jesus were being chosen, which son of the father was being
Here is another illustration. Take the Hail Mary prayer. “Full of grace” was derived
from one Greek word. That word is not found in the Bible nor used in any Greek
literature. What happened was that a word needed to be made up to get that
interpretation understood. The meaning of the phrase is that Mary is so full of grace, so
much so that she is overflowing with it. In the Bible, it has the Angel say to Mary< “Hail,
full of grace.” Names, during this time, were particularly valued and especially this name
since it was how God viewed Mary. Thus, “Hail, full of grace” was the name given. In
conclusion, one word can change everything.
Or it could be something as simple as a comma. John the Baptist. Where was he from?
The wilderness. What does he say?
Biblical Quote IV
A voice of one crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his
What kind of paths? The paths in our hearts. How about as it is written from Isaiah, the
Biblical Quote V
A voice cries out: In the desert prepare the way of the Lord! Make straight in the
wasteland a highway for our God!
Where you put a comma can change everything. So which version is correct? A trick
question and the correct answer is that both are correct. The Hebrews never had commas
and most of the texts would be large bulks.
Why prepare paths? It is so that the exiled can have a road to return home to. For John
the Baptist, he was talking about our hearts which is similar to what Isaiah said. It is how
you live your life that counts, not the physical road. T his is how two different versions
Q: Are there any passages that speak to you?
I guess some homework may be good for next time.
A: Well, I’d choose the prayer of marriage, the one with Tobiah and Sarah. I praise and
thank the Lord for us being together.
There was also the love is change, love is... something like that. Not that it was a bad one
but we choose to stay away from it.
Q: The story of the Fallen Angels, where is that from since the Bible doesn’t talk about it?
A: It isn’t in the Bible but there are references to it.
Biblical Quote VI
Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. The
dragon and its angels fought back, but they did not prevail and there was no longer any
place for them in heaven. The huge dragon, the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil
and Satan, who deceived the whole world, was thrown down to earth, and its angels were
thrown down with it.
Jesus refers to this story. It is part of the oral tradition that was eventually written down.
Q: What is Revelations about?
A: You can get a basic idea of Revelations from the opening and closing lines.
Biblical Quote VII
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him, to show his servants what must
Right off the bat, we know that this is going to be a prophetic work about the future.
There will be difficult to have complete accuracy in its predictions as free will exists.
Why the future at all?
To give us some hope. If we are in a tough situation, we would probably lose hope. For
example, what if there was a plague and it was nearly impossible to avoid getting sick?
Or when AIDs was first reported and no one knew anything about it? People were
freaking out at that time. SARs would be another example. Once you discover the facts,
a certain sense of control comes into play, even if you can still get the virus. I know of a
priest who was working in a hospital when he was accidentally stabbed with a needle
with AIDs. Accidents do happen.
Knowledge gives us hope for the future. A student may have to take an exam and they
know the day of the test but not the grade they may receive. There is hope.
Revelation uses a special kind of language, apocalyptic language. At one point, we get to
know about seven churches, all connected to the same postal group. There are seven
seals and with those seven seals are seven trumpets and with those seven trumpets are
seven angels who pour bowls onto the Earth. Finally, we get to the victory of God. The
series of seven and the like helps give a background to what is happening in the story.
Can it apply to the present also?
As the old saying goes, the future is now. Their future is our present. Some things in
Revelations refers to their past and their present but some things from the past can be
used for today.
Biblical Quote VIII
A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her
feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in
pain as she labored to give birth. Then another sign appeared in the sky; it was a huge
red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on its heads were seven diadems. Its
tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky and hurled them down to the earth. Then
the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth, to devour her child when she
gave birth. She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an
iron rod. Her child was caught up to God and his throne. The woman herself fled into
the desert where she had a place prepared by God, that there she might be taken care of
for twelve hundred and sixty days.
The stars refers to the angels and the child was Jesus. The woman is Mary and the
children of Israel represents the Church with Mary as the spiritual head.
There is the dragon with seven heads and ten horns. There is also a second best who the
devil takes control of to corrupt the government and empires, who also has seven heads
and ten horns. Then there is another beast-human who is a false prophet but he has little
Revelation is best understood after reading the rest of the Bible. It is a fun and tough
read. Don’t be too scared on what happens there since it is a book of hope.
Could Mass be a key to understanding Revelation? Dr. Scott Hahn’s book, “The Lamb's
Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth.” In it, he gives his perspective about the mass,
the liturgy, and how with it all, we can get a reflection of heaven. Mass can be seen as a
second coming of Jesus, a miniature model. It is a symbol of Jesus, which can be seen in
parts of Revelation and throughout the Bible.
Q: Any other Bible passages?
A: There was this one that I like. The first part is controversial but the end is great. It
ends with something like, “He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his
own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, because
we are members of his body.”
Yes, I know the one you are talking about, including how it can be controversial.
Biblical Quote IX
Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wife should be subordinate to
their husband as to the Lord. For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of
the church, he himself the savior of the body. As the church is subordinate to Christ, so
wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives,
even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her,
cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present himself the
church in splendor, without sport or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy
and without blemish. So [also] husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He
who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and
cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “For
this reason a man shall leave [his] father and [his] mother and be joined to his wife, and
the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to
Christ and the church. In any case, each one of you should love his wife as himself, and
the wife should respect her husband.
So what can of interpretation should we get from this? Wife should be subordinate to
“Nice try but... nope.”
“Well, it is in the Bible.”
“Nice try but still... nope.”
This is a great example as to why you shouldn’t take the Bible out of context.
The husband is head of his wife kind of sounds like a master/slave relationship in today’s
context. The husband as the master, that is what it sounds like. The answer is that it isn’t
“Don’t be so disappointed.”
Body language can have different means in different cultures. Back in those times,
decision making was thought to be made in the heart, not the head. Luckily, the rib cage
protected the heart. The symbol of life? That was the blood.
So the man as the head did not make him the boss. Instead, the decisions were from the
heart that helped represent a profound relationship. The head, as a body part, was seen as
the thing that made contact with the outside world. With all the senses, sight, smell,
touch, hearing and taste in the head, it makes sense. That information would be relayed
back to the heart so that it can do its job. Thus, the head and heart works together. This
is especially critical with the heart as the source of life.
For the division of responsibility at home in those days were different as well. Women
were at home to care for the children. They provided the source of life (Pregnancy), they
were the community to the children (Blood) and they were the protection for the children
(Home). Men worked outside of the house so they were the head who gathered the
information and came home with items to give to the heart who transmitted it throughout
So while we may hear this as a master/slave relationship, it is more of a partnership. This
passage isn’t sexist at all.
Wife should be subordinate to their husband...
Subject would be the word but I prefer submit. When we think of these two words, we
don’t think highly of them. Subject indicates inferiority as does submit. Just like an
employee/boss relationship is an inferior to a superior, respectively. But how were
subject/submit defined back in those days? They used Latin and braking up the word we
-Jacere: Stand Upright
What this brings to mind is the foundation of a building. Without the foundation, there is
trouble. Wives should be that foundation. Another alterative:
Wives should support his mission. Be subordinate to one another... with sub-jacere as
pertaining more for the wife in that they should love their husbands. The wife should be
the foundation of the relationship.
So [also] husbands should love their wives as their own bodies... When you join with
another person in the body, you are also joining with them in your heart. Men often went
out into the world and prostitution was generally accepted. In Greek cities, prostitution
was a form of the church. For Christians, the body belongs to the home and the love is
solely for the wife. Thus, the husband also gets the added duty of respect.
So this passage isn’t that controversial. In fact, there is a lot of love. There was this one
story that comes to mind when I think of this passage. Remember talking to this husband
who always felt supported by his wife. That he knew, no matter what, that his wife
would always be there and the other guys thought it was awesome. It is fair enough to
say as for most guys don’t ask for much and that they like to have some gratitude. Later
on, I went to an office party and you know how those things can be awkward if you don’t
know people. So I began talking to the wife of the husband and how the guy always talks
about how supportive she is. And here she starts saying the exact same thing about her
husband. It was amazing. They were living what this passage was rooted in. The
husband would always return to the heart, no excuses.
So the Bible asks, where is our heart? Do we try and leave our home? Getting back to
the party, you know how girls like to get together and brag about her man? Well, most
ladies at this party would gather and snipe at their husband like, “Don’t eat like a pig.”
But from the couple I admire, there was love. She showed no aggression to her husband.
It could be thought of as submission but she isn’t a slave in the relationship. It shows
they had a good sense of the relationship and that there was a foundation.
Q: Any other passages? How about you?
A: The parable of the two sons and the father. It isn’t my favorite but it is a famous one.
Q: Why famous?
A: We are all like the son?
Q: Can you tell me what the story is?
A: There are these two sons and a father. One of the sons decides to run off with the
money he earned. He squanders it, roams around until he decides to return to the family.
The father sees him, forgives him and accepts him back at the outrage of the other brother.
One little detail to draw from this.
Q: How did the son get his money?
Biblical Quote X
And the younger sons said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of your estate that
should come to me.’ So the father divided the property between them.
Basically, what the son is saying to his father is, “I wish you were dead,” To curse
someone’s life in those days was very serious. So the son squandered all of the money
away in a kind of ancient Las Vegas.
Why was he hungry? He was feeding the pigs. Why pigs? Pigs were the lowest
denomination of animal. So the son was getting less food than a pig would get and he
also had the lower dignity that comes with it. He decided he was fed up with this and he
went back home.
How sincere was the kid when he apologized to his father? Or was he just hungry? He
could have been really sorry but it may have been a selfish sorry as well.
A long time ago, my sister go into a fight with her friend. They never spoke for a while.
It wasn’t until we started filling our pool one day when lo and behold, the friend came
around and apologized. My sister wasn’t convinced which is fairly normal behavior as
she wanted to test her friend to see how sincere she was. Although the son in the story is
selfish in return home, there were no tests done by the father. Likewise, my mother told
my sister to accept her friend’s apology without any tests.
When we go to confession, we may find ourselves saying the same things, over and over.
Some people know that they are repeating themselves and often wonder, “Should I even
be here? I don’t even know if I am truly sorry.”
This story goes to show that God knows this and is trying to fill in that gap and to gives
us a way to stay on the road. If we fall into the gutter on the side of the road and halt our
journey, we aren’t Christians. If we fall but we keep trying, that is the way to go. Some
go to confession because they fear hell. There are so many reasons to be sorry for but do
we truly understand out motives?
Therapists are the answer for the last question.
God says it is all right if we do not understand or even if we fall. So long as we go on the
journey, then everything will be all right.
For homework, I think it would be best if everyone find a bible passage that they would
like to share.
Since we’re united, does that exempt both of us?
You’re not exempt.
But we’re married.
Well, I tried.
The format I’m thinking of is to lead off with a topic as a sort of faith development. And
then some Bible sharing.