It is the time of the pandemic. For those of us whose daily work and busyness have come to a sudden halt, it seems a good time for us to be visiting some "old friends". In my case, I have been cultivating long internal conversations with my old companion: academic theology. For the past ten years of my ordained life, my focus has been placed so much on the intellectual faith of others, I have hardly had time to explore my own intellectual deepening. This time of study and exploration has been exciting and I don't long for it to stop.
Part of my little adventure in theological exploration this season has pertained to getting a feel of the state of Western theology is in its method and approach and extent today. In fact, there is something in me that actually "longs" to undertake a postgraduate course of study with an institution in the West for this purpose, but insisting on that would be unwise. As a result of these little explorations and internal conversations, I have drawn some very preliminary conclusions on theology in the West as it stands today.
In the past five days, I've been receiving numerous messages on my Facebook wall, through Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp messages, and in person, all being warm wishes and kind birthday greetings from friends whom I have known, some whom I have just got to know, and even many whom I don't really know. These greetings are a stark reminder that I have just hit a major milestone in my life: I have just completed a full four decades of my life. No matter how hard I try to tell myself it's just another birthday, no big deal, I can't shake the reality off that it's a 40th birthday, and that's what makes it significant.
I have been away from Malaysia for almost a month, trotting through various countries beginning with the Middle-East and then on to some other European countries. This is the longest consecutive duration I had been away from my own country in the past 18 years. It was a great (and rather expensive) experience reading life, scrutinising cultures, observing faith.
A Holy Thursday Reflection
Holy Thursday. On this night, we see our priests performing perhaps one of the most humble priestly actions we get to observe in an entire liturgical year, that is, the liturgical action of washing the feet of twelve men seated before him. It is not just the man who performs this action, for he does it in the person of Christ. It is not just a pretend drama, for it is mean to be a real reenactment of the very same action that our Lord performed in the Upper Room on the night of the Holy Passover. Christ washes our feet again.
I get it. He happens to be a Cardinal who sharply and unapologetically tries to stay as close as possible to what many deem to be "manmade" traditions of the Church, a crony of the previous pope (who, incidentally, a particular bishop -- not my own bishop -- told me in my face should be shot dead because he thought I too was a militant crony of the previous pope), an archaic never-evolving stiff-necked conservative who gives the Catholic Church a bad name. So his removal from the Apostolic Signatura and subsequent transfer to the Order of Malta is interpreted as a sign of the present reigning Monarch of the Church not being in favour of such conservatism.