Beyond the Box

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The WORD in other words (2023) by Fr Titus Manansan SVD — Divine Word Seminary Tagaytay City

Saturday 4th Week of Lent

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

In the Gospel reading today the people were divided in their belief about Jesus. Some believed that he was the Messiah, but to others he was not. From our perspective as Christian believers, we believe that Jesus is the Messiah—from the miracles he did, like raising the dead back to life, healing the blind, curing the leprous, multiplicating the loaves, etc.

Words of wisdom and understanding came from his lips, spoken with authority and power. Why was it very hard for others to believe? One explanation could be that they have preconceived ideas of what a Messiah should be like. For example, they thought that the Messiah would be like King David, a warrior who will liberate them and lead them to rule the world. This concept of a Messiah was completely different from who Jesus was. He was a mere carpenter, a peacemaker who preached love for one another.

We should realize that we cannot put God in a “box” or a mere concept or idea. God is always beyond understanding. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord” (Is 55:8-9).

I remember the story of my professor in Spiritual Theology at Regis College, Toronto, Canada. He had a spiritual directee who was gay but who wanted to become a heterosexual man. He tried psychotherapy, hoping for a transformation. Then he hoped that spiritual direction would help him. One day he met again with the professor, and this time he was very jolly. My professor asked him what happened. He said he had a recollection. While he was all alone in the chapel praying and crying, suddenly, Jesus appeared to him and asked him why he was crying. He told Jesus that he did not want to be gay. And Jesus told him not to worry. And he wondered why? Jesus said: “I am also gay.”

Our professor’s point is that we cannot limit God or put him in a “box.” He is always beyond any definition and imagination. He is always out-of-the-box.

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