I am always fascinated with the tales of taxi drivers. The subject varies: from politics, economy, weather, religion to more personal stories of love, family, dreams, and struggles. I learned some of the important lessons in life from them. This is my tribute to them. To put a voice to their stories, usually told inside their taxi.
Modesty and Respect
I just came from the bookfair when I hailed Manong Taxi. He said he had an interesting discussion with his previous customer, who happened to be a buddhist. So I just remarked that it was interesting and it's good if we also know what their beliefs are about, and that it is good if we can dialogue with them. So he asked me if I were I catholic, so I said yes. Then I asked why, he said he is an iglesia...and that started our interesting talk inside his taxi.
I would say that it helped me that I was fresh from my compre so more or less I am familiar with bible passages, with the teachings of the church, and especially the doctrine about the Trinity. I'd say that manong was quite cautious about presenting his beliefs without offending me. He does not consider himself a fanatic. He also said that he was a catholic before and was brought up (by parents and school) catholic.
The way manong asked me or at least presented his point to me was subtle. He first asked me about my beliefs on certain things and later on would check if I am consistent with what I have previously said. I was also very careful about the words that I used and the way I explained things to him. He asked me if I believe that there are certain number of people destined to damnation (cf. double predestination of Gotteschalk) as there are certain number of people destined to salvation (cf. early teachings of St. Augustine). He also presented what's wrong about "worshipping" images and idols, as well as asked me what I know about the Trinity.
I tried my best to explain what I know about these things based on what I have learned and also held in belief. I tried not to be technical about my explanations and quote passages in the scriptures to support my beliefs. It was difficult though to get his attention when I started explaining doctrines which he thinks were not explicitly found in the bible, like the term trinity, the term mystery, etc. I said the doctrine of the Trinity is implicitly found in the bible and that it was Jesus who revealed the trinity to us. We should not then just terminate on the term itself but look beyond whom it is pointing to, and that is the God in three persons. The moment I mentioned persons, I need then to explain what persons are as understood by the early fathers.
Anyway, the good thing with manong is that he allowed me to express what I know and my convictions. In the end though, he only left me with the parable of the samaritan woman, when Jesus told the samaritan woman that though they are from the lineage of Jacob, they still do not know who God is. His point was, even if we have faith, it doesn't mean that we know God better than others. That maybe what we know about God is not the truth about God.
When I alight his cab, we were still in good terms. We both knew that it was a healthy discussion. We both expressed earlier in our conversation that we are not there to argue and convince each other but to dialogue. After our talk, my initial feelings were, did I defend my faith well? Should I have explained our faith clearer to him? Is there truth in what he said that maybe I still do not really know God?
I answered his initial question about believing if there is damnation by saying that honestly, I am uncomfortable to answer it. It may be because I believe that God is merciful that He would do everything to make sure that I am saved. I may just be optimistic about my salvation. But I told him further that this does not mean that I do not try to do good. I said, maybe right now, my motivation for doing good and avoiding the bad is not out of fear of damnation but out of love. I try to do good out of my love for Christ, because I want to follow him, because I have felt his unconditional love for me. I admitted though that before I was hang up on my sins that I do things out of guilt or because I don't want to be punished.Now I believe that my focus is on Christ and not on the prize or the punishment.
So to go back to the three questions I asked myself after getting off his taxi, I guess my optimism tells me that if I were wrong about my beliefs, God, in his faithfulness will bring me to the fullness of truth. I still hold that my trust is in God who neither deceives or can be deceived.
Throughout the duration of our conversation, only one passage kept ringing in my head: "Always be ready to make a defense to anyone who asks for the reasons for the hope that is in you, and make it with modesty and respect." I would say that manong taxi also did the same. So what have I learned from this experience, how has this helped me increase my faith, hope and love? That God's love for me has really transformed me. I am not the old sensitive, defensive person anymore who easily gets upset when my faith is being challenged. I know God's love has changed me already to become more optimistic not only about my own salvation but also of others. Moreso, my conviction that indeed God will lure (thanks Ian for the term) us in the end to choose His way is stronger than ever.