Jesus and JPIC

October 10, 2012

“We have to cope with some injustice for some time in order to achieve harmony” (a chinese proverb).  It is an illustration of how culture affects the interpretation of values.

In today’s topic, JPIC promoters are invited to look at Jesus and see how He relates to people and situations of injustice during his time, and learn from him how to act today.

Fr. Ralph Hunning, SVD

Fr. Ralph Hunning, SVD belongs to the German Province, a biblical scholar who had a wide study on the scientific and popular reading of the Bible, and parish priest in Hamburg.  He was in Nicaragua for some years.

To dwell deeply into the relationship of Jesus and JPIC from the Bible, Fr. Ralph used the seminar theme and icon – “Choose Life” and “Adulterous Woman” (Jn 8:1-11).  By way of contemplation the participants were made to enter into the dialogue that the Bible offers.

Three Phases of Contemplation and Text Approach:

  1. Discovery and adoption – becoming aware of one’s own motivation in reading the text from the Bible (personal and social).  In the story of the adulterous woman, we are particularly thinking of the marginalized women of our time.
  2. Dialogue and understanding – observing the attitudes and actions of the people in the story.  Jesus talks to the woman and those who want to stone her.  The dialogue shows the meaning of justice for Jesus and the way he lived this understanding.
  3. Internalization and sharing – acting responsibly and creatively.  Allowing the attitudes and actions of Jesus to guide us in our response to the present time.

According to Fr. Ralph, the Bible does not present definitive doctrines about justice; it offers an invitation to dialogue. The texts give us some clues on how to act responsibly and creatively.  To discover Jesus’ definition of justice, we need to look at his attitudes and actions towards different people in situations during his time.

After personal reflection, Fr. Ralph distributed pictures of different artistic interpretations of the story of the adulterous woman.  Each participant reflected on the particular image that he/she received and afterwards shared to the continental groups.  Reflection points:  What struck you in the picture?  What difficulties did you have with it?  What is it telling you on a deeper level?

Sharing in groups by continent and other photos of the day:

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The Beatitudes

To further understand Jesus on JPIC, Fr. Ralph proposed a personal meditation and group sharing on the Beatitudes (Mt 5, 1-12).   He shared about the research he did on 172 men and women from different cultures and countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America, mostly simple people who had not studied the Bible. Each had a very different way of interpreting the Beatitudes depending on cultural conditioning, thought patterns and values ​​of each group or individual.

Therefore, according to Fr. Ralph, it is important to be aware of standards and values ​​that come from different culture, and ways of interpretation emerging from the lives of the poor  and coming from the tradition of the Church, and even those developed by scientists.

After all these we must not forget that justice and peace is a gift of God, is grace, and momentum for action. The Beatitudes point to an ethical way of living and building relationships.

At all times, JPIC promoters ought to look at Jesus and see how He relates to people and situations of injustice.

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