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What is an elephant?

刊登日期: 2012.11.04
作者: Fr. Thomas Au 區耀邦神父  

What is an elephant? How does one describe it?

Even better than that, how does one tell a blind person what an elephant looks like? 

Or if you take a blind person up to an elephant and let him touch it, how would he describe what he felt? And if you take different blind persons to touch an elephant how will their descriptions be different?

And if they sit down and explain to each other their various experiences, would they end up contradicting each other, and yelling at the other person(s) for being wrong, being stubborn, or even accusing each other for being deliberately closed minded?

Often there are differences in experiences that may seemingly disagree with or even contradict each other. That is because we all are, to a degree, blind. Our experiences, because of that blindness that comes from the Original Sin of Adam and Eve, are not complete. Our experiences need to be verified, to make sure that we have the true and complete picture. 

Our personal experience is called subjective (主觀)truth, truth as I “see” it. 

We need to compare that to the “real” or objective (客觀)truth, truth as it “really” is. 

What we hold to be true must not be based upon merely our personal experiences. And when we differ with someone else, we must also be receptive to the idea that we could be wrong, or at least not totally correct. We may be missing something from the whole picture.

In the areas of “Faith”, yeah, we are back to that, the Catholic Church professes that Jesus did not only teach us the Truth, He gave us St. Peter and those who came after him, with their responsibility to pass on the WHOLE Truth of His Teachings.

This is important. As Catholics, we really believe that the Church is Jesus truly present in the world, speaks to the world and saves the world. When we say that we believe in the person of Jesus, we must also say that we believe in the “person” of the Church. That is why we do not have a church that is led by just anyone claiming to speak for Jesus. He must be a person designated by the successor of St. Peter. We will look more closely at this later. For now, we will stay with what is called the Four Marks of the Church(教會的四個特徵): “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.” (教會是唯一、至聖、至公、從宗徒傳下來的)(CCC 811)

There is only ONE Truth. This is because there is only ONE Lord, ONE faith, ONE Baptism. (Eph. 4:5)

This Truth is Holy because Jesus is the Truth and He is Holy.

It is Catholic, the word meaning “universal”, because Jesus meant to give it to ALL, for He is the God of all creation.

And it is apostolic because Jesus commanded the apostles “to teach everything [He] has commanded.” (Mt. 28:20)

So, for us Catholics, this Faith is not dependent upon how I feel about God (re: last week’s article) nor just my personal experience. My confidence in the faith is precisely because it is lovingly given to me by God through His beloved, the Church. It is like my calculus teacher in high school. He made it so simple and easy to grasp that we were eager to go to his class. God wants us to know Him and He has given us wonderful teachers like Blessed Pope John Paul and now Pope Benedict to pass on the faith.

Open your eyes, to see the whole elephant. And be careful where you step!


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