Faith should always guide our reason

HINTS AND TRACES - Fr. Roy Cimagala - The Freeman

That Bible story about that Syrian general, Naaman, who was a leper, (2 Kings 5,1-15) and the gospel reading about Christ reproaching the people in the synagogue for not believing the prophets (cfr. Lk 4,24-30) remind us that while we have to make full use of our reason, it should always be guided by faith, it should always bow to faith when at a certain point we are made to choose between our faith and our reason. These are the readings of the Mass of Monday of the third week of Lent.

As the Naaman story went, he was at first hesitant to believe what the prophet Eliseus told him, that is, for him to wash seven times in the River Jordan. He expected that Eliseus would go to him and, invoking God, would heal him.

“Are not the Abana, and the Pharphar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel, that I may wash in them, and be made clean?” Naaman complained. But his servants managed to convince him to follow what the prophet told him. And when he did, he was made clean.

The gospel story simply reiterates the same point. Christ told the people in the synagogue of their usual tendency when they would prefer to listen to their own reasoning and estimation of things than to what the prophets would tell them. “No prophet is accepted in his own country,” he lamented, and proceeded to tell them that only those who believed the prophet got their favors granted.

We have to realize very deeply that our reason always needs the light of faith. Being the human faculty we use to know and later to love, our reason just cannot be beholden to the data provided by our senses and our own understanding of things.

That would confine our reasoning to the world of the sensible and the intelligible, that is, to the world of matter and of ideas. Thus conditioned, our reason cannot go beyond those levels and would miss the world of the spiritual and the supernatural. It would get trapped in some subjective mode as opposed to what is entirely objective.

It’s important that we do some disciplining to our reasoning because it tends to get contented only with the sensible and the intelligible in the many forms that they come and attract us. It can willingly let itself be held hostage by these dimensions of reality.

We know that our reason does not create the truth. It does not create the reality. It can only apprehend, reflect, process, and transmit the truth and reality. It will always depend on a reality that is outside and independent of itself.

And reality just cannot be sensible and intelligible. A lot more goes into it than what our senses can perceive and our intelligence can discern and understand. Our reason itself, if used properly, can acknowledge that at the limits of its capability, it can discern a world that is beyond the physical and the ideal.

This is where we need to humble ourselves, a predicament that many of us find hard to resolve. We tend to hold on to our own ideas and the facts and data that we can manage to gather, guided mainly by our senses and intellect. In short, we make our own selves, and to be more specific, our own senses and intellect, to be our own sole guide, our own god.

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